Jim Dempsey


Jim Dempsey is Vice President for Public Policy for the Center for Democacy & Technology. From 2003 to 2005, he served as Executive Director; he currently heads CDT West, in San Francisco. At CDT, Mr. Dempsey concentrates on Internet privacy, government surveillance, and national security issues. He coordinates the Digital Due Process coalition, http://www.digitaldueprocess.org, a diverse group of companies, advocacy groups and think tanks working to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.

On August 27, 2012, after Senate confirmation and Presidential appointment, Dempsey was sworn in as a part-time member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency within the Executive Branch, charged with various advisory and oversight functions related to the privacy and civil liberties issues associated with the Nation's counterterrorism programs.

Dempsey is widely quoted in the media and has testified numerous times before Congressional committees. Ars Technica and Tech Policy Central identified Dempsey as one of the top names in tech policy for 2009. The Washington Post Sunday magazine (Oct. 2002) described Dempsey as “a reasoned and respected civil liberties advocate routinely summoned to [Capitol] Hill by both political parties to advise lawmakers about technology and privacy issues.”

Prior to joining CDT, Mr. Dempsey was Deputy Director of the non-profit Center for National Security Studies and special counsel to the National Security Archive, a non-governmental organization that uses the Freedom of Information Act to gain the declassification of documents on U.S. foreign policy.

From 1985 to 1995, Mr. Dempsey was assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. He worked on issues at the intersection of national security and constitutional rights, including terrorism, counterintelligence, oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and electronic surveillance laws, as well as criminal justice issues.

Dempsey previously headed CDT's international project, the Global Internet Policy Initiative (GIPI). In that capacity, he consulted with government officials and human rights organizations on Internet policy and civil liberties issues.

From 1980 to 1984, Mr. Dempsey was an associate with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter. He clerked for the Hon. Robert Braucher of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (1979 - 1980). He is a graduate of Yale College (BA 1975) and Harvard Law School (JD 1979). He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia.

Mr. Dempsey is author or co-author of articles in law reviews and other journals on privacy and Internet policy, including “Privacy as an Enabler, Not an Impediment: Building Trust into Health Information Exchange,” Health Affairs, Vol. 28, no. 2 (2009); “Commercial Data and National Security,” 72 G. W. L. Rev. 1459 (2004), “Civil Liberties in a Time of Crisis,” Human Rights magazine (2002), and “Communications Privacy in the Digital Age,” 8 Albany L.J Sci. & Tech 65 (1997). He is co-author of the book Terrorism & the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security (New Press, Third edition, 2006) (with Prof. David Cole of Georgetown).

Mr. Dempsey has been a member of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age (2004-2011); the Bill of Rights Defense Committee advisory board (2002-2012); the Board of Directors of the Defending Dissent Foundation (2007-2012); the Industry Advisory Board for the National Counter-Terrorism Center (2005-2006), and the Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight Working Group (2005).

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