James Dempsey

Jim Dempsey has been a leading expert on privacy and Internet policy for three decades. From January 2015 through May 2021, he was executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT), where he helped maintain Berkeley’s #1 rating in IP law. Prior to that, he was at the Center for Democracy & Technology, where he held a number of leadership positions, including Executive Director (2003 to 2005) and head of CDT West (2005 to 2014). Currently, in addition to teaching a course on cybersecurity law in the LLM executive track program at Berkeley, Jim is Senior Policy Advisor to the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center.

In August 2012, after Senate confirmation, Jim was appointed by President Obama as a part-time member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent federal agency charged with advising senior policymakers and overseeing the nation’s counterterrorism programs. He served in that position until January 2017, while also leading BCLT.

Prior to joining CDT, Dempsey served as Deputy Director of the non-profit Center for National Security Studies and Special Counsel to the National Security Archive. From 1985 to 1995, Jim was Assistant Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. He practiced law as an associate at Arnold & Porter, in Washington, DC, and clerked for Judge Robert Braucher of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Jim is author or co-author of articles in law reviews and other journals, including “The Path to ECPA Reform and the Implications of United States v. Jones,” Univ. of San Francisco L. Rev. (2012), and “Privacy as an Enabler, Not an Impediment: Building Trust into Health Information Exchange,” Health Affairs, (2009). 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). He is co-editor of Bulk Collection: Systematic Government Access to Private-Sector Data (Oxford, 2017) (with Fred H. Cate).


B.A., Yale University (1975)
J.D., Harvard University (1979)