Our History

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse was founded in 1992 as a program of the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law. During the early years, we operated a toll-free telephone hotline and published printed consumer fact sheets—assisting tens of thousands of people. Our founder, Beth Givens, documented and analyzed the stories we received, and began to identify patterns. She amplified individual voices by alerting public officials and policy makers, and became the first advocate to both raise awareness of identity theft and provide victim assistance.


In 1996, we launched the first iteration of our website and transitioned to the fiscal sponsorship of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network. This jump into the digital age allowed us to better address the broad needs of the public and track trends in consumer privacy. We were also able to expand our reach by delivering educational materials in a more-up-to-date and expedited manner. 


In 2005, in response to the widely publicized ChoicePoint data breach, we began tracking reported data breaches in the United States.  During the years that followed, we built an online mechanism for answering individual privacy questions and also began researching and building a directory of data brokers. 


Beth Givens received several awards for this visionary work over the years, including

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award
  • Brandeis Award (Privacy International)
  • Albin Gruhn Consumer Warrior Award (Consumer Federation of California)
  • Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award (Consumer Federation of California)
  • U.S. Privacy Champion Award (Electronic Privacy Information Center)

In 2014, we became an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and have continued to empower individuals and advocate for positive change within the ever-changing privacy landscape. Every day we work to build on our well-established foundation and advance privacy for all.

    Our History