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Privacy Protectors Spotlight: Tom Kemp

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Last Modified Date: Apr 25, 2024

As the first in what will become a series of posts highlighting leaders who are making a difference in advancing personal data rights and individual privacy, this month we recognize Tom Kemp. In an age of mass surveillance and personal data exploitation, Tom Kemp stands out as a remarkable figure. His steadfast advocacy for robust consumer privacy laws and ethical technology use, coupled with his influential policy work, have led to improved privacy and security for people all across the country.

Tom Kemp is a Silicon Valley-based author, entrepreneur, seed investor, and policy advisor with a rich background in cybersecurity. As the founder and former CEO of Centrify (now Delinea), a leading cybersecurity provider specializing in identity and access management solutions, Tom led the company to protect over two thousand enterprise customers, including more than 60% of the Fortune 50. His entrepreneurial spirit and leadership earned him a nomination as a Finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern California. During his time at Centrify, Tom saw firsthand the impact of identity-related threats in the corporate sphere, affecting both businesses and individuals. As a result, he has since committed himself to advancing security technology and enhancing privacy protections. 

Now a seasoned angel investor, Tom has invested in over a dozen tech start-ups. He is also a respected technology policy advisor, contributing significantly to the drafting and passing of pivotal privacy legislation such as California Proposition 24 (the California Privacy Rights Act), California SB 362 (the California Delete Act) and Texas SB 2105.

Tom Kemp has been an influential voice in the ongoing conversation about big tech and privacy. His book, Containing Big Tech: How to Protect our Civil Rights, Economy, and Democracy, offers a detailed analysis of the threats posed by Big Tech’s digital surveillance, data brokers’ collection and sale of our information, the exploitative use of AI, and monopolistic and anticompetitive practices. Containing Big Tech provides actionable solutions to these problems and has received widespread acclaim, achieving bestseller status in multiple Amazon categories and earning numerous awards. 

Tom was recently named by Okta as one of “The Identity 25” for shaping the burgeoning field of digital identity. Undoubtedly his work in privacy advocacy, his book promoting the need for guardrails to protect our identity and personal data, his past work professionally in the identity space with Centrify, and his angel investing in cybersecurity startups, including in identity verification, led to his inclusion.

Tom writes extensively on technology policy on his blog and has been interviewed as an expert in cybersecurity and privacy by The Guardian, PoliticoWashington PostCNBCFox News, and others. 

Tom’s Policy Work

Tom has played a crucial role in advocating for and shaping significant privacy legislation. 

In March of this year, Tom received commendations from both the Texas Senate and the California Senate in the form of State Senate Resolutions as recognition for his work in contributing to the passage of state privacy laws in those respective states. 

His public policy work played a pivotal role in the enactment of the California Privacy Rights Act (Proposition 24), the California Delete Act (SB 362), and Texas SB 2105.

These legislative efforts are significant not only for their impacts on individual privacy rights but also for their potential to inspire nationwide adoption of comprehensive privacy protections.

Proposition 24 added new privacy protections to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), enhancing consumers’ abilities to manage their personal data, including providing clearer rights to access, correct, and opt out of the sale or sharing of their information. Thanks to the CCPA and its amendments in Proposition 24 (the CPRA), California residents may ask businesses to disclose what personal information they have about them and what they do with that information, to delete their personal information, to not sell or share their personal information, to correct inaccurate information that they have on residents, and to limit their use and disclosure of sensitive personal information. 

The CCPA and CPRA also make provision for authorized agents who act on behalf of residents to exercise these privacy rights. The role of authorized agents is essential in helping to safeguard vulnerable populations such as children, elderly parents, and victims of domestic violence from data exploitation, while third-party services acting as authorized agents are a critical tool for many in safeguarding their personal information.

Additionally, the California Delete Act establishes a state-managed portal that enables Californians to request the deletion of their personal information from data broker databases, giving them an easy way to exert control over their personal data. 

Meanwhile, Texas SB 2105’s robust data broker registry law requires transparency and accountability from data brokers, requiring them to disclose if they collect data on children and if they have been breached, and to increase their information security measures.

Through his dedication in advancing these pieces of legislation, Tom has not only helped set a precedent for the kind of rigorous, consumer-focused privacy laws that are very much needed in our day and age but has also helped improve privacy for all Americans.

As Tom notes, “Given that California is 1/8th the population of the United States and the 5th largest economy in the world (assuming it was an independent nation-state), the thought process is that the CCPA effectively sets the floor for privacy protection in the US, as many businesses will probably not want to maintain two websites or policies — one for California and one for the rest of the US. Combined with the need to support GDPR’s even stricter privacy protection requirements, the two together have pushed privacy to the forefront.”

Impact of Tom’s Policy Work

Since the groundbreaking California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect in 2020, consumer data privacy and security has indeed improved for all American citizens. 

The effectiveness of California’s consumer protection laws, underscored by the pivotal role of authorized agents, is increasingly evident. According to the latest FBI Internet Crime Report, after many years of torrid growth, phishing and personal data breach cyber crimes are finally on the decline! After peaking in 2021, reported phishing crime is down 8% through 2023, and reported personal data breach crime is down 5% through 2023 from its peak in 2022.

Source: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2023_IC3Report.pdf

We believe the reduction in phishing and personal data breach incidents can be partially attributed to the proactive measures enabled by the CCPA and the CPRA. Tom’s work exemplifies the profound impact that dedicated individuals can have on public policy and privacy rights, and we look forward to the continued positive changes his work will inspire.

Explore and Engage

As a special resource for our readers, Tom has generously provided a free downloadable PDF of the chapter on data brokers from his influential book, Containing Big Tech. This chapter delves into the ecosystem of data brokerage, largely facilitated by Big Tech, and its impact on privacy. We encourage everyone to download and read this free chapter.

Stay tuned for more profiles in our monthly Privacy Protectors Spotlight series. If you’re inspired by Tom Kemp’s story and want to learn more about how you can protect your own digital identity, visit Optery’s blog for resources and guidance.

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