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Google CEO: Change your name to escape our watchful eye

Brennon Slattery | Aug. 18, 2010
Eric Schmidt has been making some curious jokes (maybe) about the consequences of virtual lives and over-sharing.

The list goes on and on. Privacy issues exist with Google Social Search, Google recently modified indexing of Gmail messages to address concerns over transcribed Google Voice e-mail messages showing up in the search engine, Google's Dashboard has raised hairs, and even the embryonic Chrome OS has raised privacy concerns.

While some tech pundits suggest Schmidt's "change your name" comment is eerie, not all concede his point. (People do have a tendency to post incriminating information on social networks.)

"Perhaps it's a good idea, even. But it's probably far more a fantasy scenario to chew on than anything tied to reality. It demonstrates an unusual understanding of privacy, freedom, indiscretion and consequences: as tied to the line between youth and adulthood more than the basic human experience," Marshall Kirkpatrick writes for ReadWriteWeb

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid also sees the reasonableness of Google's CEO's comments: "Schmidt may be envisioning a centralized system where such critical background information is available to employers without their needing an applicant's full name, which could make a name change worthwhile. Fair enough."

Still, I tend to agree with Computerworld's Preston Gralla's assessment in that Google may have one-upped Orwell. "George Orwell's dystopic imagination in 1984 couldn't ever venture this far. He imagined a government knowing everything about you. Even he didn't see that it might be private industry one should instead be scared of."


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