James Felton Keith

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James Felton Keith
Jfk data protection world forum hj 2.jpg
Data Protection World Forum Keynote
James Felton Keith

(1981-09-25) September 25, 1981 (age 37)
Detroit, Michigan
ResidenceHarlem, New York, New York
Alma materTuskegee University
Harvard University
Lawrence Technological University
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Andy Tarradath

James Felton Keith (born September 25, 1981, in Detroit, Michigan), commonly referred to by his initials JFK, is an American engineer, author, and serial entrepreneur. In 2018 Keith was the first Black American representative of the LGBT community to run for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 13th congressional district.[1] He was one of the earliest advocates for individual ownership of personal data, and the economic value of it as a catalyst for a capitalistic implementation of Universal Basic Income.[2] As an entrepreneur Keith founded many companies including the conference Personal Data Week, FinTech analytics firm Accrue.com, the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Queer TV network Slay TV.[3][4]

Personal data[edit]

At Future Tech Congress with Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland.
JFK at Data Etik with Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark

Keith has been a lobbyist for the codification of personalized data as a natural resource owned by persons, in an effort to achieve his goal of basic income. In Denmark at the end of a European tour of his books, while addressing the Prime Minister and the national insurance pensions, he commented on the international success of the General Data Protection Regulation:[5][6]

Keith defined '"personal data" as a micro-personalized form of big data while searching for a mechanism to measure the value of people's contribution to the productivity of their surrounding society.[7]

Universal Basic Income advocates James Felton Keith and Andrew Yang in 2018

On the notion that personal data is a natural resource, Keith founded the International Personal Data Trade Association[7] and produced the conference series Personal Data Week.[8] When interviewed by the British data industry paper Internet of Me, Keith elaborated on thoughts about human value measured by data: "I'm not necessarily as concerned about control over my data as much as I am of having the right to have some agency over its cumulative value and the right to retaliate when I think my data is being used in inequitable or unethical ways."[9]

As a candidate for Congress, Keith has been compared to Andrew Yang, another advocate for a universal basic income (UBI). Where Yang frames UBI as protection against automation, Keith connects his version directly to widespread concerns about personal data. Keith argues that every American deserves a payout because data about them is a direct input to the profits of today's big corporations.[10]

Universal basic income[edit]

Having announced a candidacy for US Congress in 2020, Keith met with Pressenza before the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress which was held in East Harlem, a neighborhood in his congressional district. He stated that a universal basic income is an opportunity to pay the people based on the value of the community.[11]

If the money were to come from the government, then the government could only give what it takes from the people, but Keith says his vision for UBI is not a tax and the money does not come from the government, but rather from the 5.3 million companies in the United States.

In his 2017 book Personal Data Keith explained how he was previously against the idea of universal basic income because of its 20th century welfare connotations. He then endorsed the strategy based on a royalty for personal data. Confirming that sentiment he told The Sociable that universal basic income is the best way to distribute an equity stake in productivity. He suggested that the guaranteed income would be necessary even without technological automation.[12]

Human rights work[edit]

James Felton Keith protesting for Eric Garner at US Dept of Justice

In 2013 he established the Keith Institute with the objective of establishing economic and educational inclusion alongside his sister Kharena Keith Coleman, an educator and researcher. The institute is used to divide his economic and education work.[13]

Founders of Slay TV Keith with Sean and Terry Torrington

A lifelong human rights protester across multiple movements, JFK has lead marches with Black Lives Matter at the US Department of Justice building in support of an indictment for the death of Eric Garner in Washington, DC.[14] [15] After an alleged racist and homophobic attack on actor Jussie Smollett, Keith lead a solidarity rally in New York to say "This is bigger than Jussie." Keith spoke about his reluctance to hold his husband's hand in public out of fear of having bottles thrown at them.[16][17]

An economic activist, he is responsible for the first LGBT Pride games in all four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.[18] During the first pride night at an NFL franchise, he was noted to have engaged the "great equalizer" for LGBT rights in the same way civil rights era activists engaged the business of professional sports.[19]

Keith served as CEO of the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.[20] Keith alleged that he was fired from the Mayor of Detroit Mike Duggan's cabinet for building the chamber of commerce.[21]

In 2015 he cofounded Slay TV with Sean Torrington and Terry Torrington, which provies television content for Queer people of color.[22] In 2016 he founded the Personal Data Week conference via the International Personal Data Trade Association to explore data as a natural resource among all corporate productivity.[23]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Keith, James Felton (2010). Integrationalism: Essays on the Rationale of Abundance. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1452858937.
  • Daniels, Kwesi; Keith, James Felton (2011). A Brief History of Twirlin': The When The How and The Who. Think Enxit Press. ISBN 978-0615439082.
  • Keith, James Felton (2012). Integrationalism: Essays Exploiting Spiritual Disincentives for Humanity. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Publishing. ISBN 978-1612290287.
  • Keith, James Felton (2017). Personal Data: The People's Asset Class. Blurb. ISBN 978-1389724350.


  1. ^ Honigman, Brian (April 25, 2018). "James Felton Keith: How LGBTQ Entrepreneurs Can Get Involved in Politics". Forbes.
  2. ^ Keith, James Felton (November 20, 2016). "Keith: Personal Data Trumps Big Data". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  3. ^ "SlayTV: the Premiere Destination for Global Queer and Trans Content". Good Morning Washington. Washington, DC: WJLA-TV. April 21, 2017. Archived from the original on July 9, 2018.
  4. ^ "James Felton Keith Among Speakers at 2016 HOPE Global Forum Annual Meeting". The Network Journal. December 22, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "Vores privatliv kræver mere end en skrap EU kommissær". Politiken. November 17, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "Forsikring & Pension, Data Use and Data Ethics" (PDF). Forsikring & Pension. November 15, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Pelletier, Martin (August 29, 2017). "Why data is the new oil and what it means for your investment portfolio". Financial Post.
  8. ^ Mandese, Joe (August 7, 2017). "New 'Week' Focuses on Data: This Time, It's Personal". Media Post.
  9. ^ Carroll, Simon (August 22, 2017). "The value of personal data: Interview with James Felton Keith". Internet of Me.
  10. ^ Morris, David (April 19, 2019). "If You Like Andrew Yang, You Should Meet James Felton Keith". Breaker Magazine.
  11. ^ Andersson, Dave (June 16, 2019). "Pressenza interviewed James Felton Keith". Pressenza International Press Agency.
  12. ^ Hinchliffe, Tim (June 20, 2019). "'Universal Basic Income is the best way to distribute an equity stake in productivity': James Felton Keith". The Sociable. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Martin, Melissa (December 2015). "Starting with One: Keith Institute Provides Detroit Students Measurable Tutoring Programs to Improve Reading, Math, and Science". Parkview. No. 3. pp. 75–78 – via Issuu.
  14. ^ BAUM, SARAH EMILY (July 16, 2019). ""The Black Community Has Been Failed": DOJ Won't Pursue Charges Against Officer Who Killed Eric Garner". Teen Vogue.
  15. ^ LESSER, ERIK S (July 15, 2019). "Black Lives Matter of Greater New York protest in support of an indictment for the death of Eric Garner, Washington, USA". Shutterstock.
  16. ^ O'Connell-Domenech, Alejandra (February 4, 2019). "Activists condemn Smollett alleged MAGA attack". The Villager. New York.
  17. ^ Aceto, Donna (February 3, 2019). "New Yorkers Rally in Solidarity with Jussie Smollett". Gay City News.
  18. ^ Paul, Tony (April 6, 2015). "Tigers Will Host First LGBT Pride Night June 3". The Detroit News.
  19. ^ Birkett, Dave (June 29, 2015). "LGBT Pride Event Slated for Lions Game This Fall". Detroit Free Press.
  20. ^ "Establishing LGBT Relationships: A Look into the Regional Detroit LGBT Chamber of Commerce". Between the Lines. February 12, 2015.
  21. ^ Manske, Nathan (December 17, 2015). "'These White Gay Guys Are Coming to Take All Our Jobs.' Workplace Discrimination in the Mayor's Office". HuffPost.
  22. ^ James, Nathan (November 12, 2017). "A New Candidate Follows the Blue Wave". HuffPost.
  23. ^ Carroll, Simon (August 22, 2017). "The Value of Personal Data: Interview with James Felton Keith". Internet of Me.

External links[edit]