I would like to use my nickname instead of full name when commenting on random posts within Google network.

However when I wanted to enforce that (by changing my Full Name into nickname), I found out that:

The nickname that you've chosen appears to violate the Google+ Names Policy.

I believe they meant this policy.

However I am worried about my privacy and this was applied quite recently.

By which law I am enforced to share my personal details (such as my full name) on forum publicly to on-line people which I even don't know (when commenting on random posts)?

In other words, based on what law Google tries to enforces its restrictive policy, if any?

Can I do anything in that situation (e.g. my privacy is protected by any law), so I can enforce on my privacy rights without removing my Google Plus account? I'm from UK if that's matter.

  • 3
    The caveat here is that use of Google's services is at-will, you aren't forced to use it. Since there is nothing illegal with their ToS, there is nothing you can do to compel them otherwise (nor should there be). Nov 4, 2015 at 3:20
  • I'm a bit confused upon review - they explicitly link to their Names Policy; why do you think they mean a different one?
    – jimsug
    Nov 5, 2015 at 20:23
  • @jimsug They've linked to Q&A which has only tips, so it doesn't look like a proper Policy Names as stated in the link name.
    – kenorb
    Nov 5, 2015 at 20:47
  • @kenorb Okay, that's fair enough (although it may be a de facto policy if they call it and enforce it as one) - what makes you think that you violate the Names Policy or Content Guidelines because you haven't used your full name, though? For instance, have you tried using another full name (John Smith)?
    – jimsug
    Nov 5, 2015 at 21:33
  • @jimsug The message appeared when I've tried to enforce my nickname in fields where is Full name (as I couldn't leave it blank), so I think the system detected that nickname was copied into Full Name.
    – kenorb
    Nov 5, 2015 at 23:18

2 Answers 2


By which law I am enforced to share my personal details (such as my full name) on forum publicly to on-line people which I even don't know (when commenting on random posts)?

Contract Law. Google have made it a term of the contract that you use your full name. You can:

  1. contact Google and negotiate a change to that term,
  2. accept that term,
  3. choose not to enter the contract.

so I can enforce on my privacy rights without removing my Google Plus account?

As a person subject to UK law, your privacy rights involve limiting who and in what circumstances Google can divulge personal private information to. Your name is not personal private information; things like your medical history and bank balance are.

Aside from that, you do not have a right to privacy. Anything you do or say that is visible or audible from a public place (like the internet) or a private place where the person in control of that place does not insist on your privacy (i.e. almost everywhere that you are not in control of) is public!

  • Do UK privacy laws necessarily apply to companies based and operated in other countries, though? Even if they do, it's likely that enforcement of such laws would be at least impractical.
    – jimsug
    Nov 4, 2015 at 0:30
  • @jimsug yes and yes, however, the data is probably held by a UK subsidiary in this particular case
    – Dale M
    Nov 4, 2015 at 3:54
  • 2
    @jimsug National laws apply to companies which choose to do business in that country, and especially so if the company has a sizable presence there. It can be hard for the UK to enforce privacy laws against, say, a US high school debate team's website. It is easy to enforce against Google, which has thousands of employees in the UK and clearly intentionally targets the market.
    – cpast
    Nov 4, 2015 at 4:51
  • 1
    @cpast I don't know about the last part, an Australian tried to bring a case against Google Australia for defamation in its web search, and the court found that as Google AU was not involved in operating Web Search they had no effective control over it, and the case was decided in favour of Google AU. Google AU has employees and presence in Australia.
    – jimsug
    Nov 4, 2015 at 4:55
  • 1
    @jimsug But the EU has successfully brought cases against Google Inc. That seems like more of a "who to sue" question.
    – cpast
    Nov 4, 2015 at 4:58

Google doesn't need a law to justify its Names Policy, and you don't have to use your full name or personal details. There's no requirement in either the Google+ Names Policy or the Content Policy that you use your real name.

Provided that Google's Terms of Service don't otherwise violate the law, they're under no obligation to allow you to use a pseudonym.

If you don't want to share your full name, don't. It's as simple as that.

On the other hand, provided that you otherwise comply with their requirements, you might be able to use any other combination of words as your Google+ name. They probably can't tell that your name is/isn't what you say it is, though even if they can't prove it they may still be able to take action to make you change it.

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