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A. Skousen

"The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity," Schmidt said. "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you."

It seems to me that the only people who would be qualified to "manage this" are people who are rational, careful, and understanding one hundred percent of the time. The history of the human race does not give one much confidence, does it?


"The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity," Schmidt said. "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you."

True transparency - whose true transparency? True transparency is at ALL levels not just ours. Are the governments going to become as transparent as they want us to be? Is Google? Is Verizon? These are the questions that need to be answered.


What Schmidt means is that providing true authentication for users on the web would be a big money maker for Google.

However, no one in their right mind would want Google or Facebook to be the ones providing that authentication.

What Schmidt is hoping is that enough people will be foolish enough to sign up for Google+ that his company will become the de facto authenticator.

He should be honest -- transparent -- about his motivation, which is to deepen his company's reach into our lives and to fatten his own wallet. When he couches his argument in philosophical or moral terms, it's just eyewash.


I think would be clearer to refer to Google's policy as requiring the use of "government names", rather than "real names" or "common names". Google has made it abundantly clear that they do not care about anyone's real name (i.e., the name they actually use and are known by) -- what they care about is the government-sanctioned name.

Remember April 2009, when Google refused to require YouTube users to register their government-sanctioned names at the demand of South Korea, because Google said (correctly) that it was an unacceptable a priori restriction on freedom of expression? I do. A pity that Google seems to have forgotten it.

"We have a bias in favor of people's right to free expression in everything we do. We are driven by a belief that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. We believe that it is important for free expression that people have the right to remain anonymous if they choose." -- Rachel Whetstone, Google Vice President of Global Communications & Public Affairs, April 2009

South Korea is abolishing that requirement, by the way. Apparently, they have decided that it is too great a threat to privacy.


So much for "don't be evil".

Steve Varndell

Come back Google we miss you.

John James

Schmidt probably said or meant 'asymetric threats' not 'asynchronous.'

We do have reason to fear governments knowing everything we say and do. Many governments become corrupt and evil (by any standard -- nobody believes there has never been a corrupt or evil government). And there is no guarantee it won't happen here, with our government as well. Some would say it already has.

But Google doesn't need to require government names (at least not yet). And law enforcement can almost certainly track down a persistent identity if necessary. So it doesn't need Google's real-names policy. So people can still be safe from abusers, etc., since these private aggressors usually don't have law-enforcement's access to inside information.

Google has a major conflict of interest here, since its central business interests are fundamentally opposed to privacy.

The way forward is to not rely excessively on any one company, not even Google. The so-called "real names" (really, government names) dispute reminds us of this.

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