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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
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(I apologize in advance for the extremely long explanation. But, please, if after reading this, you don't feel truly qualified or interested, don't answer it and leave it for someone who would be a better choice. Thanks.)

I am in my early 60's and am involved with very "serious" social services work (assisting abused people) and, due to the fact that many of the perpetrators are dangerous, I need to keep my personal/background information as private as possible. For that reason, I regularly do a self-search of my name on the internet to make sure that there is nothing online that would compromise my career requirements.

And, I am also currently dealing with several potentially serious health issues-- all of which are made worse with emotional stress. Additionally, due to my being a single person and also constantly in the job market as a self-employed PC data analyst/research assistant, I do not want anyone being able to "pre-judge" me by merely googling me...

... specifically, regarding my RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND, since, although I was associated with a particular religion by birth and early upbringing in my hometown, since moving far away more than 30+ years ago, I have had no affiliation with my birth religion-- or any other religion for that matter. Instead, I consider myself to be "spiritual."

In that regard, in early 1995 (18 1/2 years ago), after being told that a non-profit historical society associated with my birth religion had printed a small (10-12 page) booklet that included the story of how my maternal grandparents were able to survive financially in a "mom & pop" business during the Great Depression, I contacted that agency to find out about getting a copy.

As I predicted, although that organization could have made a copy of that small booklet and mailed it to me for less than $5, they pressured me to join their organization. I explained to them that, due to my being non-religious, I didn't want to join their religious-affiliated organization. Instead, I agreed to make an ANONYMOUS donation-- with the assurance that my name would never be published anywhere. Upon being given that assurance, I mailed a check to them for $75... and, after receiving that booklet in the mail shortly after, I completely forgot about that agency...

... until six weeks ago, when, upon googling my own name on the internet, I was shocked to discover that the very first link to pop up on the first page of searching my name, was a link to a PDF Newsletter of that birth religion-associated historical society-- listing me as a new member of that organization in 1995.

As a result, I contacted them immediately (six weeks ago) and requested that they please get that link of my name to their religious organization removed from the internet, ASAP, by deleting my name from that PDF, the director claimed that she didn't know how to remove it and that their non-profit organization didn't have any funding to pay for IT to do it. After I then offered to pay for IT, she then made more excuses claiming that no one else was bothered by it.

I then explained to her that, not only was that religious information linked to my name on google search greatly compromising my work safety, career opportunities and my personal life, it was completely inaccurate-- that it indicated that I was very involved with my birth religion when in fact, I hadn't been involved at all for the past 45 years.

And, I "confessed" to her that, to add to my concerns, I stupidly allowed myself to be "ripped-off" by some people over the past few years (making loans that were never repaid) and know for a fact that at least a couple of those rip-off artists find their victims from online donor lists of religious-related organizations. And, it turns out that the PDF newsletter of the religious-related historical society that is linked to my name on the internet contains long lists of hundreds of prominent members and donors-- and, pops up instantly as the first link to my name when googled.

Not surprisingly, (I hadn't contacted that historical society since ordering that booklet in 1995 due to my belief that they were greedy and uncaring-- by "gouging" me for that booklet and pressuring me for a donation), she seems to want to make my health issues worse, and also interfere with my personal and professional life-- including endanger my safety. Most amazing to me is that she doesn't even want to protect the members and donors info that is included in that PDF newsletter-- which is currently instantly accessible by the people who ripped me off-- plus any other scammer who is given my name by the others and merely googles my name.

Finally, MY QUESTIONS. What are my privacy rights? And, those of the members and donors? Can she intentionally put something on the net that she's knows is inaccurate and interfering with my personal and professional life? What can I do to fix this matter, ASAP?

Thanks in advance for your prompt response.  Jon

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Under the law regarding non-profit organizations, donor lists and names are XXXXX XXXXX from view under the Form 990 reporting requirements. The organization has a duty to protect the names of its donors and does not have to disclose them. As far as disclosing names of members, this is dependent wholly on the privacy policy of the organization, but most all entitles have a privacy policy stating they will not disclose names of members without a subpoena.

In any event if they are publishing your name as associated with their organization and they will not remove the name, your next step is to use a local attorney to send them a demand notice informing them that they are to remove your name from their lists as you have not now or ever consented to allow your name to be used and published by them. The second step if they refuse to comply with the attorney's demand letter would be filing suit against them for invasion of privacy (as you are not a public figure they cannot claim a right to publish your name) and seek a court injunction for removal of your name or the entire document from the internet (they would be forced to hire an IT person, if that is their excuse, to remove the document).

I truly aim to please you as a customer, but please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please consider that I am answering the question or question that is posed in your posting based upon my reading of your post and sometimes misunderstandings can occur. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered.

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This is NOT the practice of law nor is it legal advice to you, it is merely educational information for you to use to seek out a licensed attorney in your state to get actual legal advice from them. Please use sites such as or or to find a local attorney to get actual legal advice in all matters.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi,I already rated you even though I had a few follow-up questions--

My key issue with this religious non-profit agency is that they improperly uploaded the PDF of their 1995 religious newsletter to the internet-- so that, "as is," not only is it linked to my name (as the first link) when anyone googles me, but, also, it is not accessible on the non-profit's website (as are all of their other newsletters.)

As a result, none of their members/generous donors can even view that PDF.-- just me, and people who google my name-- which includes several "known" scammers who scammed ME recently.

Again, they aren't going to fool me again, but, that list of generous donors on that non-profit agency's PDF involves a lot of elderly, widowed persons who can easily be scammed.

---- Anyway, the update is, I just received an email back from a "so-called" IT person for that non-profit agency, and after 4 weeks of him stalling and not correctly re-uploading that PDF from/to the non-profit's website newsletter archives, he states that he has no more time to spend on this since he isn't being paid and also that the exec dir of the non-profit, who composed and apparently incorrectly uploaded the original PDF to the internet, doesn't want to be bothered about it. The reality is, I have offered to pay him to correct it-- but, he still won't do it-- because the Exec Dir is telling him to not change it.

... Not surprisingly, this non-profit agency has a long-time reputation for being nasty and uncaring-- they obviously don't care about my privacy or that of their generous donors-- which is the main reason why I don't want to be connected to it in any way. And, it's also why I don't want all of those "innocent" donors to have their names viewable to anyone who googles my name since, that definitely includes scammers who know me (unfortunately.)

Again, I first contacted the Exec Dir of the non-profit agency six weeks ago about correcting the upload and she then referred it to an IT person four weeks ago-- who has essentially just dragged his feet since. And, he just keeps claiming that he isn't being paid despite my assuring him that he will be. He's just a young "puppet" for the Exec Dir who doesn't want to correct it.

In regard to your response (above), I know that this agency would never send me their privacy statement. And, involving an attorney in any way will escalate this matter thru the roof.

Although you didn't mention it, this agency does have a list of their Board of Directors on their website and I've been considering calling the Pres for several weeks. But, I know that they are going to be as nasty and uncaring as the Exec Dir-- and attack me for questioning that PDF or the Exec Dir.

And, unfortunately, my 90 year old parents have been involved with that agency and aren't aware of their "bad behavior." And, considering how unprofessional this agency is, if I pursue this, they will probably contact my parents and try to claim that I'm "harassing" them.

Anyway, please let me know if you think that the board of directors idea or anything else might work.

Again, as is, that PDF of the religious newsletter is not accessible at all on the non-profit's website (where all of their other newletter PDFs are located.) Neither the Exec Dir or IT person can even find it at all on their website-- and instead, are leaving it just linked to my name on Google, etc. Yet, they aren't correcting that "mistake."

Thanks in advance for your prompt response.










Thank you for your reply.

First thing I would tell the IT person directly that you will pay him to fix it. I know you told the executive director, but since the IT person said he was not getting paid you might want to tell him directly you WILL pay him to fix this.

Second, if they have their board of directors listed, sending them a letter with attached proof of what is going on and a demand to cease and desist could get their attention to make them order the Executive Director to correct the matter.

If not I am afraid you would need the attorney to proceed to suing.