Google services should not require real names: Google exec
2013-03-05 0:00

By Gerry Shih | Toronto Sun


In the face of increasing government-led crackdowns on social media, Google Inc should not force Internet users to reveal their real names for some services, including its Google+ social network, said Vint Cerf, a senior Google executive known as a “father of the Internet.”

In an interview with Reuters, Cerf acknowledged that the search giant’s sweeping push in the past 18 months to institute real-name authentication for Google+ and other services has sparked intense debate within its Mountain View, California, headquarters. But he argued that current name policy, which allows for some users to display pseudonyms, offers adequate “choice” in how users choose to represent themselves.

Over the past year, the company has strongly encouraged users to merge their accounts on YouTube, Gmail and other Google properties into a single Google+ identity, the company’s social network offering that asks users to use the “common name” they are known by in the real world.

“Using real names is useful,” Cerf said. “But I don’t think it should be forced on people, and I don’t think we do.”

The comments from one of the Internet industry’s most high-profile thinkers come at a time when the debate over the future of online anonymity is roiling tech circles, with the outcome bearing profound implications for Internet use around the world.

Google and Facebook Inc are leading the charge to encourage Internet users to log on and carry out their digital lives with their offline identities, arguing that greater transparency enhances online transactions and communication.

But Cerf recognized using real names could land social media users under oppressive regimes in “fatal trouble,” and Google will not enforce its policy in such instances. But in many other cases, user authentication should be promoted, he said.

“Anonymity and pseudonymity are perfectly reasonable under some situations,” Cerf said. “But there are cases where in the transactions both parties really need to know who are we talking to. So what I’m looking for is not that we shut down anonymity, but rather that we offer an option when needed that can strongly authenticate who the parties are.”

In the past few months Cerf has warned that governments - including democratic ones - are increasingly censoring and filtering the Web, while some regimes are seeking to ban online anonymity in order to control political speech.

“At Google, we see and feel the dangers of the government-led Net crackdown,” he wrote in a CNN.com editorial in December.

DOLLAR MOTIVE

Yet digital rights activists have accused two of the Internet industry’s most influential players - Facebook and Google - of leading the charge against anonymity by pushing its users to identify themselves, which can turn up valuable information for two companies that essentially make money by advertising and tracking user behavior.

When Google+ launched in 2011, its requirement that users display their real names alarmed activists who accused the Web giant of abandoning its “Don’t be evil” corporate mantra to pursue growing rival Facebook. The world’s most popular social network has been the most aggressive in enforcing its policy, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg once equating keeping multiple identities with “a lack of integrity.”

[...]

Read the full article at: torontosun.com



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »