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

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

Sweden Recognizes Palestinian State; Israel Upset
2014 10 31
Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm. The move by Sweden’s new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel’s nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also comes during increased ...
Fed-Backed Study: How to Brainwash Public into Fearing “Climate Change” Like Ebola
2014 10 31
$84K study seeks ways to make public fear "climate change and overpopulation" The National Science Foundation is funding a study to determine how to brainwash the public into fearing “climate change and overpopulation” as if they were Ebola. The NSF awarded an $84,000 grant to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo yesterday to figure out how to make ...
Brain decoder can eavesdrop on your inner voice
2014 10 31
As you read this, your neurons are firing – that brain activity can now be decoded to reveal the silent words in your head TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That’s no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot ...
6 Million Lies
2014 10 30
“If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you say will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift of the coming hell.” C Wright Mills. I need to share information I have discovered ...
Google’s New Computer With Human-Like Learning Abilities Will Program Itself
2014 10 30
In college, it wasn’t rare to hear a verbal battle regarding artificial intelligence erupt between my friends studying neuroscience and my friends studying computer science. One rather outrageous fellow would mention the possibility of a computer takeover, and off they went. The neuroscience-savvy would awe at the potential of such hybrid technology as the CS majors argued we have nothing to ...
More News »