updated 12:33 pm EST, Tue March 5, 2013
Vint Cerf defends anonymity in certain situations
Despite Google's recent push for users to register accounts under their actual names, executive Vint Cerf has acknowledged the necessity of pseudonyms in certain cases. In an interview with Reuters, the search giant's "chief Internet evangelist" noted that the company internally debated the issue, amid growing criticism, and eventually came to the conclusion that "choice is important."
The executive admits that some users living in countries with oppressive governments may encounter "fatal trouble" if they are found to post certain content to social networks under their real names. However he also argues that in most cases "Using real names is useful."
"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."
Google has stopped short of requiring any official government-issued identification to verify an identity for Google+ accounts, which can now be used as the primary login for some third-party services. The use of alternative names nonetheless appears to fall into a grey area, however, as the company only officially approves pseudonyms for a small number of users.
"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," Cerf added.