Google Plus Real Name Rule Draws Attention of UK Watchdog
As you probably know, the Google guys have launched the Google Plus social network albeit invitation only, and one of Google’s rules pertaining to the use of the users real name seems to be causing somewhat of a stir and has apparently caught the watchful eye of a UK watchdog.
We recently reported that Google was suspending accounts whereby the user doesn’t use their real name, one of the most prominent of which is iPhone hacker and iPhone Dev Team member MuscleNerd, and now according to and article over on Slash Gear by way of The Register, the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office is looking into Google’s ID policies.
However apparently a spokesperson has confirmed that there is no formal investigation currently going on, but the Information Commissioner’s Office is apparently using official man-hours to unofficially probe Google’s recent changes to profiles and username signups.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office’s remit is, “to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals,” and is apparently using that remit they will be taking a look at Google and Google Plus.
Google has already deleted or suspended many profiles that have unusual names and will apparently delete any account that is set to private by the end of the month with Gogle stating, “using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used” and it’s with that understanding that the company is pushing forward the purge on anonymity and nicknames. Setting up a new Gmail account, for instance, now demands your “real name.”
Furthermore Google has also tightened the name screws elsewhere in their services, and word is anyone now wishing to open a Gmail account must use their real names otherwise the account will not be forthcoming.
Bradley Horowitz, VP of Products for Google has pointed out that Google Plus is still a work in progress and that “feedback would be heard,” and said “ We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing. So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process — specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.”
So basically if you are not using you real name and Google notice, they will give you the opportunity to alter the name otherwise you will be locked out of Google Plus.
Personally I’m not too sure what the UK Information Commissioner’s Office can do about the real name rule if they officially investigate, but to be honest I do feel that when it comes to the Internet, people should be allowed to call themselves whatever they wish and not be penalised for doing so.