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Schmidt & privacy: bad reputation on Google? Change your name  (View post)

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

Monday, August 16, 2010
7 years ago14,051 views

<< [Mr. Schmidt] predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.>>

online.wsj.com/article/SB10001 ...

What do you think about that?

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

Same remark from Valleywag
valleywag.gawker.com/5614198/g ...

Grega M. [PersonRank 1]

7 years ago #

What about the Google Goggles? Sure they (currently) do not support image recognition (at least officially). But in a few years?
Change of the name will not be enough as Google will link the faces of old and new you.

Plastic surgery? :)

Grega M. [PersonRank 1]

7 years ago #

Some similar thought on techcrunch
techcrunch.com/2010/08/16/eric ...

Above 4 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

barry c [PersonRank 0]

7 years ago #

he obviously never used google forums :)

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

What a long title for your article, Philipp!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

You're right Tom :)

Manoj Nahar [PersonRank 4]

7 years ago #

DNA matching in few years.

que [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

In the spirit of the long title of the post, here is a long response ;-)

Short version:
Although he suggested a name change to protect past discretions, I don't believe Eric Schmidt meant that literally. Other innovations and our understanding and comprehension of our online lives will evolve before name changing is common.

Not so short version:
I somewhat doubt that Schmidt was actually serious about this. The author even says "apparently seriously" so it may just have been his interpretation – and the statement is not directly quoted. I highly doubt that scenario will ever happen nor will it be an entitlement. Instead, I think three things will occur before any drastic measures like a name change is ever a common practice.

First, a better cultural/societal understanding of what online data is available and stored forever about you will become prevalent in the coming years. It’s really only the current generation that is growing up with the always connected, always updated, always 'on' online world. This type of lifestyle will become very normal for the next gen and therefore, many of its disadvantages and ramifications will also be much better understood even at earlier ages.

Second, as privacy and anonymity diminish, so too will expectations about personal behaviors and experiences. If we are all (or most of us anyway) living in a much more public online world, then we are also all being judged by ‘somewhat’ similar standards and expectations. So, those embarrassing moments today that are shared or available online may be more of a normal activity or at least not so unusual in the not too distant future.

Third, technology will advance to help eliminate some of these issues and laws/regulations will be created to help protect against such activities by individuals and organizations. For example, there may be standard interfaces that reach across companies and applications that allow people to remove certain private material from other services/servers upon request. And in doing so, it may be become illegal to disallow these requests. Example: Any private photo of mine on a website will need to be removed or altered/blurred from any/all accounts – be they mine or someone else’s).

With these three scenarios, I don't see anything as drastic as a name change even really being a serious consideration. Nor would it likely even be practical since there will also be much better facial recognition programs and cross-referencing algorithms that will make something like a name change a trivial matter for these advanced systems to decode, analyze and piece back together. In other words, you can run, but you can’t hide from big brother.

But, I do agree with Eric's argument that society doesn't yet understand what happens when almost everything becomes recordable and potentially public. The pace of progress is very fast right now and our ability to comprehend and fully understand it have yet to adjust to it. And although we may never completely catch up culturally to future technological advancements as they happen, we will continue to close the gap as we learn to better comprehend and adjust to the frantic pace.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

In the United States, and in most countries, any adult is already able to change their name. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to speculate that in the future people may be "entitled automatically" to change their name.

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

You **can't** change your name if you don't have a good reason to do it.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

In which country, TOMHTML?

In the United Kingdom, anyone can change their name at any time for any reason. I did it myself to drop an unwanted middle name, and it cost me £30 for the solicitor's fees.

In Australia and New Zealand, anyone can change their name at any time for any reason. In principle you don't even need to file any official paperwork; you can just start using a new name – although in practice you need the paperwork to satisfy organizations such as your bank. In New Zealand you file a statutory declaration (for which you can buy a form at the newsagency).

In the United States, the rules vary state-by-state, but even if you want to go the most difficult route (i.e. court order) it seems only that "the applicant may be required to give a somewhat reasonable explanation for wanting to change his name" which doesn't sound onerous:

Wikipedia – Name change – United States
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_cha ...

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

7 years ago #

I was talking about France, and I read an article explaining that it was the same way in the USA.

In France, there are very restrictive cases (a name that sounds stranger, an insult, ...) and even if you are allowed to change your name, the change has to be published in the Journal Officiel (where all legal informations are reported) and in – at least – two local newspapers. So it can be indexed by search engines...

Fatima [PersonRank 0]

7 years ago #

I don't use my real identity on the web. Schmidt clearly doesn't believe online anonymity will survive, I want to know Sergey and Larry's views on this.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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