About the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
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The real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through the automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable.
-----U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission, 1977
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Mission and Goals
Officers & Members of the Board
Are you an individual with a privacy question or complaint?
Please use our Online Complaint Center. If you have a question, we will research it and respond to you typically within 3 to 4 business days. It is difficult for us to answer questions over the phone. Most questions we receive require some research, and we don't like to give off the cuff answers that may be less helpful.
We strive to provide you with the information and tools you need to empower yourself to take action. When you contact us, please be aware that we do not provide legal advice. But, when you contact us with a privacy issue with which we have expertise, we will do our best to steer you to helpful information.
Are you a reporter?
Please call us at (619) 298-3396 . Paul Stephens is our media contact for print and radio media. If you are looking to do an on camera interview, please ask for Beth Givens.
Send us a letter? Please send any written correspondence to: 3033 Fifth Avenue, Suite 223, San Diego, CA 92103
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a California nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Our mission is to engage, educate and empower individuals to protect their privacy. We identify trends and communicate our findings to advocates, policymakers, industry, media and consumers.
The PRC's goals are to:
- Raise consumers' awareness of how technology affects personal privacy.
- Empower consumers to take action to control their own personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection.
- Respond to specific privacy-related complaints from consumers, and when appropriate, intercede on their behalf and/or refer them to the proper organizations for further assistance.
- Document the nature of consumers' complaints and questions about privacy in reports, testimony, and speeches and make them available to policy makers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and the media.
- Advocate for consumers' privacy rights in local, state, and federal public policy proceedings, including legislative testimony, regulatory agency hearings, task forces, and study commissions as well as conferences and workshops.
- An Online Complaint Center for consumers to report privacy abuses and request information on ways to protect their privacy.
- Assistance and interviews for journalists, providing background and comments for stories.
- A referral service for journalists and policymakers who are seeking victims of privacy abuses who have indicated a willingness to talk with the media and/or testify in legislative and regulatory agency hearings.
- A speakers service, in which PRC staff make presentations at conferences, employee training sessions, and civic and community group meetings.
- Beth Givens, Director
- Paul Stephens, Director of Policy and Advocacy
- Meghan Land, Staff Attorney
- Tena Friery, Research Director
- Kimberley Gough, Consumer Advisor
Beth Givens is founder and director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, established in 1992. She also acts as the PRC's Chief Privacy Officer.Givens has developed the Fact Sheet series as author and/or editor. She authored the encyclopedia entries on identity theft for Encyclopedia of Privacy (2007), World Book Encyclopedia (2004) and Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment (2002). She is author of The Privacy Rights Handbook: How to Take Control of Your Personal Information (Avon, 1997) and is co-author of Privacy Piracy: A Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft (1999). She contributed a chapter on consumer and privacy rights to the 2006 book, RFID: Applications, Security and Privacy. She co-authored a chapter on identity theft with Mari Frank in Protection, Security, and Safeguards: Practical Approaches and Perspectives, edited by Dale L. June (2013).
Givens represents the interests of consumers in public policy proceedings at the state and federal levels (California Legislature, U.S. Congress, and federal and state regulatory agencies). Her contributions to legislative hearings, regulatory workshops, and public policy conferences are found in the Speeches & Testimony section of the website. Givens is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.Givens has participated in numerous task forces and commissions including: Consumer Federation of America Identity Theft Services Best Practices Task Force, Consumer Federation of America Cloud Computing Working Group, California Judicial Council Working Group on Personal Information and Court Outsourcing, California Real ID Act Privacy & Security Work Group, and California Radio Frequency ID Advisory Committee.
She is often interviewed by the media on consumer privacy issues, including: The Willis Report, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, NPR Morning Edition, NPR Talk of the Nation, Marketplace, and major U.S. newspapers. Prior to her work as a consumer advocate, Givens was a librarian specializing in library network development and resource sharing.
Paul Stephens is Director of Policy and Advocacy for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. He has been associated with the PRC since 2005. Stephens has extensive experience in public policy, regulatory issues, and legislative matters. He also has considerable specialized expertise in federal rulemaking and adjudicatory proceedings. Stephens has served as advisor to several federal Commissions and councils covering a broad range of regulatory activities. He has developed numerous policy briefing papers and regulatory analyses and made presentations to a variety of civilian and military agencies.
Stephens is experienced in legislative affairs, having been responsible for reviewing numerous pieces of proposed legislation.Stephens represents the PRC in media interviews facilitating consumer awareness of important privacy issues. He develops PRC consumer educational materials including newsletters, consumer alerts, privacy tips, and fact sheets. He also conducts research in support of PRC's consumer outreach programs. Stephens has had a long time interest in consumer advocacy and privacy issues, and enjoys working to protect consumers' privacy rights.
Meghan Land is Staff Attorney for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and joined the organization in March, 2011. She focuses primarily on electronic privacy issues, and worked previously as a legal fellow with New Media Rights in the area of intellectual property. Meghan researches and writes educational materials; prepares comments for privacy-related regulatory proceedings; carries out PRCs federal policy advocacy efforts; and monitors as well as analyzes privacy law and policy developments for PRC. She is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US).
Meghan received her JD from the University of San Diego School of Law, where she served as Chief Executive Editor of the San Diego International Law Journal. In addition, she holds a BA in Journalism and French from the University of Georgia.
Kimberley Gough is Consumer Advisor and Director of Technical Operations for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse . Her primary responsibilities include answering consumers’ questions and complaints regarding a wide range of privacy issues. In addition, Kim administers all aspects of the Online Complaint Center and oversees all technical/IT aspects of the organization.
Kim has worked in the technology field for nearly 20 years, focusing on software and hardware development in the medical, retail and consumer fields. She has been instrumental in creating turn-key solutions for marketing, distribution, sales, operations and IT with a strong understanding of the new technology frontier. Building on this expertise, Kim formed her own company and created a secure method of retrieving private health information. Two strong themes throughout her career in technology and business have been privacy and security, which she brings to her work with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Tena Friery is Research Director for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, with expertise in financial privacy, credit reporting, medical records and HIPAA, employment and volunteer background screening, telecommunications, and debt collection. She has been associated with the PRC since 1999.
Prior to joining the PRC, she was a senior financial fraud investigator with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with previous experience involving the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act in the CFTC's Office of General Counsel. In addition, she has a background as a paralegal.
- Albert Norman Shelden [President]
- Susan Henrichsen [Secretary]
- Mari Frank, Esq., [Treasurer]
- Evan Hendricks
- Pastor Herrera Jr.
Albert Norman Shelden [President] was the Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of the California Attorney General's Office Consumer Law Section from 2004 to 2008. He was a member of the Consumer Law Section from January 1973 to November 2012. He received his BA, with honors, from UCLA, and his J.D. from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he was an Editor of the Law Review. He drafted a number of important California consumer laws, including laws dealing with direct marketing, business opportunities, telemarketing, "900" numbers and Do-Not-Call. He has argued consumer cases before the California Supreme Court, the California Courts of Appeal, the Ninth and Fifth Circuits, and various federal district courts. He second-chaired the states’ argument involving the application of state deceptive advertising laws to airline advertising before the U.S. Supreme Court. Shelden has written a number of publications for the National Association of Attorneys General and has lectured at seminars and conferences on various issues involving consumer law, the interplay of the First Amendment and Commercial Speech, sweepstakes and promotional activities, and food advertising issues. He was involved in numerous multistate lawsuits aimed at the practices of sweepstakes and promotion companies, telecommunications issues, predatory lending practices, privacy, environmental advertising and health fraud issues.
Susan Henrichsen [Secretary] retired after 29 years as a California Deputy Attorney General in the Consumer Law Section, investigating and prosecuting a wide variety of cases involving unfair or deceptive business practices. Henrichsen participated in multi-state actions and investigations relating to credit practices and consumer credit issues and has prosecuted cases in California involving a wide variety of businesses. She was actively involved in privacy issues, including Internet privacy, the privacy of medical and financial information, and identity theft. In addition to handling cases involving information-sharing practices, she drafted comments on proposed federal rules including HIPAA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and testified on state and federal legislation. Henrichsen has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her law degree is from the University of Southern California.
Mari Frank, Esq., [Treasurer] Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) is author of: A Step by Step Guide for Ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft; Safeguard Your Identity; and The Idiot’s Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft. In 2013, Mari was editor and author of Privacy at Risk, a California State Bar Journal. Since 2005, Mari has hosted Privacy Piracy on KUCI 88.9 FM. Mari has testified on privacy in the California Legislature, Congress, and at the White House, and hosted the PBS television special, Protecting Yourself in the Information Age. She chairs the California State Bar Privacy Committee, advises 3M’s Visual Privacy Council, serves as Fellow for the Ponemon Institute, and was advisor to the California Office of Privacy Protection. Mari has appeared on national television such as Dateline, 48 Hours, O’Reilly Factor and she has been interviewed on over 300 radio shows. She has been featured in numerous periodicals and in 2012, Money Magazine named her Money Hero for her pro-bono work. She serves as a court qualified expert witness and a certified CLE trainer for the State Bar of California regarding privacy and conflict resolution issues. Mari teaches negotiation, conflict transformation, and leadership at Brandman University. (www.MariFrank.com; www.kuci.org/privacypiracy )
Evan Hendricks was Editor/Publisher and founder of the Privacy Times newsletter from 1981 to 2014. Through the newsletter alone, he has published nearly 3,000 pages covering a wide range of privacy and information law subjects, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). He is author of Credit Scores and Credit Reports: How the System Really Works, What You Can Do. Hendricks has testified regularly before Congress. He is a regular presenter at Federal Trade Commission workshops. Hendricks has been qualified by the courts as an expert witness in FCRA and identity theft cases. He has served as a consultant on privacy issues to federal and state governmental organizations and businesses. He has been a featured American presenter on privacy-related issues at events in Paris, France, Venice, Italy, Cardiff Wales, London, England and Ottawa, Ontario. He is regularly quoted in the mainstream media and trade press. Mr. Hendricks has a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College, Columbia University, and also attended the University of Oregon.
Pastor Herrera Jr. has been involved in the area of consumer protection for over 30 years. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at California State University, Northridge, in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. Formerly, he was employed with the Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs (LA DCA), where he served as the Director for 19 years. Under his leadership, LA DCA provided consumer protection services, including consumer counseling, complaint mediation and investigation, developed an award-winning volunteer and college internship program, and implemented a strong community partnership and consumer education component. Herrera is a Board member of several organizations, including: California Contractors State License Board, National Consumers League, National Insurance Institute Consumer Advisory Board, and Consumer Action. He is a past Board member of: California Community Colleges Family and Consumer Sciences Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles Financial Credit Union, and former Chair of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Fund Oversight Corporation. He is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, holds a Lifetime California Adult Teaching Credential, and is fluent in Spanish.
- Recent PRC funding has been provided by In re Netflix Privacy Litig.; the Consumer Federation of America, the Wang v. Asset Acceptance et al Cy Pres Fund (attorneys David Parisi, Ethan Preston), and the Roger L. Kohn Fund.
- PRC Director Beth Givens was the recipient of the 2012 Albin Gruhn Award for her consumer advocacy efforts spanning 20 years as founder and director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The award was given by the Consumer Federation of California at its annual legislative reception in the California State Capitol.
- PRC Director Beth Givens was the recipient of the 2010 Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award.
- PRC Director Beth Givens was the recipient of the 2010 US Privacy Champion Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in honor of Data Privacy Day, January 28, 2010. (http://epic.org/2010/01/epic-honors-us-privacy-advocat.html)
- PRC Director Beth Givens received a 2002 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org/awards/pioneer.html).
- PRC Director Beth Givens was a year-2000 recipient of the Brandeis Award from Privacy International (www.privacyinternational.org).
- The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and its affiliated Identity Theft Resource Center were honored with a year-2000 award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice (www.justiceawards.com) for their work with identity theft victims.
- The PRC received the 1997 Consumer Action Award for its "outstanding service to consumers." (www.consumer-action.org)
One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is hearing from individuals who we have assisted. Visit our "Praise for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse" page to read consumer feedback.
How to Donate The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse appreciates donations from those who value the information we provide on our web site and when we assist them through replies to our inquiry form or with direct intervention. Your support of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse enables us to continue to educate consumers and advocate for stronger privacy-protection laws, regulations and industry practices. The PRC is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit. Individuals may donate to the PRC online or by printing out our contributions form and sending a check to the address above which also is on the form. Be assured that 100% of your donation will support the work of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Also, please know that we do not release the names of individual donors to others. Our organization also accepts Cy Pres funding. If you are interested in speaking with the PRC about a Cy Pres settlement award, please contact PRC Director Beth Givens.
Browse Privacy Topics
Background Checks & Workplace
Banking & Finance
Credit & Credit Reports
Harassment & Stalking
Identity Theft & Data Breaches
Online Privacy & Technology
Privacy When You Shop
Public Records & Info Brokers
Social Security Numbers
Who We Are
We are a nationally recognized consumer education and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to protecting the privacy of American consumers.