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Looking to have name on website removed

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Junior Member
Zigner - Does a privacy policy serve any purpose then? I realize it's not law, but shouldn't there be some sort of consequence when a company or organization doesn't follow its own privacy policy? Otherwise, it sounds kinda like bait-and-switch to me: advertising one thing ("we'll keep your personal information private") and doing another (posting your information on the internet).

misiron - I've tried talking with the president of the group, but she refuses to talk with me. I've asked other board members to talk with her, and she refuses to discuss the matter. I realize you're only hearing my half of the story, but you'll have to take my word for it that she's become obstinate to the point of unreasonable.


Senior Member
In post number 4, j991 told you what you could do to rectify the matter.

You cannot have your name removed entirely if you were, in fact, a member of the Board of this group at one time and listed as such at the time. However, if you are no longer a member of the Board, then your name could and should be removed. Using your name in connection with a group that you no longer support or have any affiliation with can, in some instances, lead to an "invasion of privacy" action (misappropriation of a name or likeness) against the group that is using your name (if the use of your name can be looked at as being an endorsement of the group). There are four privacy torts, of which misappropriation of a name would be one.

Contact an attorney to draft a letter to the administrator, advising the administrator that your name should be removed since you are no longer a Board member and do not wish to be named on the site. An attorney can advise you best if there is any action worth pursuing against this group.

Names are not, generally, considered personal information, however the use of your name in certain ways can invade your privacy. If you are a member of any public group, however, your name can legally be listed publically as being a member. This is public information and part of public record.

Privacy policies, by the way, are only as good as the privacy policy makers. ;)

Edit to add: There are only a few ways that listing you as a Board member when you are no longer a Board member could be considered defamatory. One example would be if you were at one time a Board member of, say, a charitable group and the charitable group was found to have been diverting funds to help finance, say, a terrorist group. If you were no longer a member, having your name connected with a group suspected of illegalities could defame you, if you had no connections with the illegal activities of the group.
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Junior Member
Thanks for your reply, Quincy -- I always find your comments very helpful. :)

Are all nonprofit (501[c]3) groups considered public groups? Are all public records obligated to be on the internet? When I looked up other public records (marriage, divorce, etc), it seemed that all records required submitting a request form, paying a fee, etc. I didn't see any records that a person could simply click & immediately see on the web.

As for board members, this article (idealist.org - The Nonprofit FAQ - Don't Board lists have to be made public?) states "Board lists are often included in reports to state and federal agencies. It is unlikely the organization must provide the list separately to an individual."

So from my layperson's perspective, it sounds like just because something is public record doesn't mean it has to be available for free on a website, and nonprofit board members don't necessarily have to be publicly listed. Or am I off base?

I should clarify that my name has been removed from the current board list. Where my name remains is in the newsletter issues that are kept on the website in both HTML and PDF documents.

In my opinion, this group has a history of ignoring online privacy concerns. They used to publish every new member name in their newsletters without notifying the new members or giving them a chance to opt out. The previous new member application form used to say "Your information is safe with us! We will not share it with third parties." Yet they published everyone's name alongside stories of where they attended festivals in such-and-so city and signed up lots of new members.

The current form now says "We will not sell your information. We value your privacy." (Note the change from "share" to "sell.") They also added a "may we publish your name" question, but even if a new member answers "no," they still publish that person's initials and city. Maybe I'm just griping, though, and this is all irrelevant.

I did find mention of a Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which might apply to this situation, but I'm not sure if becoming a group member fits in with receiving goods or services. I did receive a free item when I joined the group (it's how they attract new members), if that helps. As for the deceptive part, I feel the group is seriously misrepresenting how they protect the privacy of their members.

About the Act (PDF): http://www.jtexconsumerlaw.com/V8N2pdf/V8N2deceptive.pdf



Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Hang on a sec -

Your name is mentioned in PAST publications, which are available in an archived sort of way?

You have no case.


Senior Member
I agree with Zigner that you would not be able to have your name removed from any archived copies of newsletters. But it is good that your name is no longer listed as a current board member.

Pretty much ALL public information and public records can be accessed, by using the FOIA, by paying fees, or just by using a search engine online. There is really very little that is considered private information (medical records, sealed records, financial records, social security numbers). And even this information can be discovered, using the right tools and with the right know-how, especially if the information is online (as many medical records, financial records, tax information, and social security numbers now are).

Names, group memberships (past and present), addresses (past and present), marriages (past and present), schools attended, degrees granted, almost all court records, traffic tickets received, places traveled, etc. - all of this information can be accessed, and most with relative ease.

Although a lot of this information is considered personal information, none of it is considered private information (although, interestingly, the publication of some of it can, under certain circumstances, lead to invasion of privacy actions :)).

The lesson to learn from your experience is that NOTHING on the internet is absolutely, 100% private, and you should never become a member of any group that you will later regret becoming a member of. ;)


Junior Member
I appreciate your patience with me, Quincy! I suppose I'm being a bit hard-headed about this whole thing, but your detailed explanation helps get the message through my thick skull. You're definitely right, this is a "lesson learned" for me. :eek:

Just out of curiosity, though, does the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act not apply to membership situations because no goods or services are exchanged?


Senior Member
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act does not apply to your situation. The Act protects consumers from misleading, deceptive or false business practices and applies only to those entities which engage in trade or commerce. For instance, under the Act, a consumer can seek recourse against a business that sells used items as new items, exagerates or misrepresents the benefits of a product or service, price gouges, lies about the need for repairs on a product, and so on.

If the birding group of which you were a member sells, say, specially-blended birdseed, and then causes some consumer confusion or misunderstanding as to your affiliation, connection or association with this birdseed (if you are a well-known bird expert, for instance), and the group calls their seed "Arenay Brand Seed," or states that Arenay uses this blend when, in fact, you never have, and/or the birding group has not obtained a license from you to use your name in their advertising, or they list your name as a Board member when you are not, implying a sponsorship or affiliation with the product that does not exist, THEN you could potentially have some legal recourse under the Texas Act (as well as recourse under an Invasion of Privacy tort, Misappropriation of a Name). And consumers could have an action, as well, if they bought the seed thinking you endorsed it.

But membership in a group alone, without the related sale of goods or services, would not be covered under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. And there is no legal action available to you against someone who chooses to publish, for whatever reason and for the world to see, your name, address or phone number online (all information nicely and easily available in a phone book). It is public information, not private.
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