Beth Givens Acceptance Speech, CFA Fortieth Annual Awards Dinner


One story stands out from those early day in the mid-1990s. An elderly woman from the Bay Area phoned. She had been mugged in front of her home a few months earlier, and her purse was stolen. She survived the mugging, and was able to take care of her stolen credit cards and her checking account. But she explained that it was far more difficult to deal with the brand new credit accounts opened in her name.

She told me that she kept notes on the steps she had needed to take in order to clean up her credit report. Was I interested in what she had learned?

I said “yes, of course!”  I copied down each of her steps, added other information from our files and logs – and that became our first guide on identity theft – a guide that has been updated and revised dozens of times since.

Disclosure Accounting: Comments Submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights


 In adopting the final HIPAA Privacy Rule (Privacy Rule) in 2003, OCR included a section outlining a patient’s right to receive an accounting of protected health information (PHI) disclosures. As adopted, however, the Privacy Rule includes many exceptions to the kinds of data that must be included in an accounting, one of which is that an accounting need not tell patients about disclosures made for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.

The Proliferation of Online Information Brokers and Reports of Abuses of Consumer Privacy


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on the online information broker industry to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of the agency’s deliberations for the Privacy Roundtables series.

The online information broker industry has come to the forefront of consumer privacy issues in recent years. Information brokers are companies that compile information on individuals via public, semi-public and private records and offer this information via online “lookup” services, often with no questions asked. Some charge a fee while others provide their services at no charge. Consumers who are attempting to limit the availability of their personal information, due to concerns about privacy, safety or identity theft, have lodged numerous complaints against this industry with the PRC over the years.

Comments to Department of Health and Human Services re Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS or Department) interim final rules regarding breach notification to individuals in the event of unauthorized use and access of protected health information. The rules, issued in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), are mandated by Section 13402 of the Health Information Technology for Clinical Health (HITECH) A

“Pay As You Drive” Automobile Insurance: The Need to Guard Personal Privacy


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and PrivacyActivism agree that a pay-drive plan that offers financial incentives for those who drive infrequently or who may choose to carpool or take public transportation has enormous potential for reducing traffic and protecting the environment. However, we respectfully disagree with the Commissioner’s statements in his August 3, 2009, press release that the regulations protect the privacy of California drivers.

Also, regrettably, neither the Department’s press release nor the amended regulations explain how the privacy of California drivers is protected.

Comments to the Los Angeles City Council: Public Policy Ramifications of Cloud Computing


I am writing to express concern about the proposal for the City of LA to implement Google Apps for its e-mail and office systems.

I am concerned about the propriety of a government entity using services that are “in the cloud,” so to speak, as repositories for sensitive personal and organizational information.

I question if enough is yet known about the privacy, security and confidentiality of personal information in a cloud environment.

“Pay As You Drive” Automobile Insurance: Comments on the Need to Guard Personal Privacy


On June 18, 2008, PRC and Privacy Activism responded to a call for comments when DOI first considered adopting a pay-drive program.

Our June 2008 comments discuss the serious threats to privacy inherent in a pay-drive program that depends on data gathered by onboard technology. Our concerns extended not only to the kinds of data collected by installed devices but also to the potential and unforeseen secondary uses of collected data. With few exceptions, our concerns about the threats to privacy and potential secondary uses of data remain essentially unchanged from those expressed in June 2008.

Errors in Employment Background Checks: Harmful Long-Term Consequences for Individuals


It is clear to the PRC that the problems of flawed background checks is not new to the FTC. It is also our belief that this is a critical area of consumer protection that deserves the increased attention of the FTC. Our analysis of FTC data uncovered numerous instances of complaints against the same company for reporting inaccurate data, often concerning criminal activities; failure to follow FCRA requirements for limiting information reported; and difficulty in getting the misinformation corrected.

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