Jim Harper is a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). His primary areas of focus are legal and constitutional law issues, Cryptocurrency (bitcoin), and privacy issues. Harper earned his BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and he earned his law degree from the University of California – Hastings College of the Law, where he was editor-in-chief of Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.


Harper is an attorney, and he served on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Affairs, and the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.

He was the Founder and Principal of PolicyCouncil.com from 2000 to 2004 and founder and editor of Privacilla.org from 2000 to 2006. He was the Founder and Webmaster for WashingtonWatch.com from 2004 to 2017, and he was Global Policy Counsel for The Bitcoin Foundation in 2014. In addition, he was a founding member of the Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee for the Department of Homeland Security. He has also represented companies including PayPal and Verisign in front of Congress.

Harper served as a Senior Fellow and the Director of Information Policy Studies for the Cato Institute from 2004 to 2017, and then he was Executive Vice President of The Competitive Enterprise Institute from 2017 to 2018. Now he is a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise institute.

Published Work

Harper is the co-editor of Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It for the Cato Institute in 2010, and he authored Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood for the Cato Institute in 2006.

In addition, Harper has written amicus briefs in Fourth Amendment cases that were before the United States Supreme Court. He has published scholarly articles in various law journals, and he has written articles in popular press for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.


Harper publishes blog posts for AEI on topics such as reasons to repeal Real ID, why fining telecom companies for illegally selling customer information isn’t necessarily an effective punishment, and the expectation of privacy in contrast to the potential benefits of facial recognition software for law enforcement. In addition, Harper has written on the benefits of blockchain technology, even without Cryptocurrency.


Harper is one of the most respected authorities on privacy and security matters. He studies and speaks about the impact on privacy from the initiatives that are designed to increase national security. He discusses topics such as national ID cards, data mining, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, data retention mandates, and many other security measures that have an impact on privacy.

Harper points out that the majority of national security programs help the government to monitor and control law-abiding citizens, but there are flaws that allow criminals and true threats to security to defeat these measures. One of his major topics is the new Real ID system in the United States. He discusses at lengths the history of the United States and the dangers of having a national identification system such as this.

Harper has researched and spoken about the difficulty of adapting the right laws and policies to deal with the unique problems that are a result of the information age. His work in this area has been cited by Reuters, the Associated Press, and USA Today. He also has been on MSNBC, CBS, Fox News, and other media to discuss these topics.

His think tank, Privacilla.org, was a web-based think tank that looked at privacy. He does more than simply speak on privacy; he talks about how security works, where it is successful, and where it fails. He is an expert on plans, programs, and regulations. His blog posts, publications, and interviews are informative and point out the deeper issues surrounding privacy. He is called upon to share his expertise on these issues with many different organizations.

Jim Harper