Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Name Changes and the Future

Several years ago, Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt said that in the future, name changes would become much more common.  


Because of the Internet's long memory, that's why.  Changing your name is never going to let you *really* escape from things like the law, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS, but it will offer you the opportunity to escape from amateur-level Google searches by people who might want to learn about you.  The reasons for a name change could range anywhere from someone's desire for greater *uniqueness* in search results, to embarrassment over youthful high jinks, to actual attempts to mask previous criminal behavior.

Thankfully, Jeffrey Curley's killers, including the one featured as the protagonist in this article, received life sentences (though this guy does have parole eligibility fairly soon).  The article caught my eye because this convicted murderer is attempting to change his name, and Curley's father is working to stop it from happening.

The ostensible reason for the name change is because of his affiliation with Wiccanism, but part of me wonders whether it might have anything to do with whether he thinks he'll someday be paroled, and how his current name carries the stigma of the truly heinous act he committed in the late 1990s (and of course the now-public connection between his desired name and his real name means that any future searches for the new name will tie right back to the slaying).   

Regardless, expect to see more stories like this in the years to come.  As Eric Schmidt predicted, expect more interest in name changes; in turn, expect a backlash from those with reasons to oppose the desired changes.  

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