Sunday, December 14, 2008

Funny story: Dr. Libshitz can't get an email

This is a true story, I didn't made it up. And so is the name... ;-)

We know that anyone can become any person he/she likes when they are on the internet, but what will happen if someone insisted to keep his/her real name?

Dr. Herman I. Libshitz, has learned early to defend his family name since he's just a little kid. "When you're named Libshitz, you expect problems with your name," he says. "Can you imagine what a drill sergeant did with Libshitz?"

But Dr. Libshitz didn't just sit still when in 1998, he and his wife bought a computer and tried to sign up for an AOL account. "AOL told me my name was insulting and offensive," he remembers. "They wouldn't give me an e-mail address." Dr. Libshitz fought and won that battle.

But in July 2008, when Dr. Libshitz and his wife decided to upgrade their home Internet service from dial-up to broadband: Verizon, they found out that the ISP wouldn't accept their name for use in an e-mail address.

"Verizon could use my name in the phonebook. They could use my name to bill me. Lord knows they cash my checks with my name on it," Dr. Libshitz says. "But somehow, as an e-mail address, it wasn't good. That offended me. I told them it was fine when Uncle Sam wanted me to be in the military, and I proudly served."

Even with four phone calls and a rotating lineup of unseen supervisors were still not enough to solve Dr. Libshitz's issue. The issue was solved only after a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer managed to get through to someone at Verizon to discuss the doctor's DSL purchase problems, and ultimately to reverse the decision declaring his last name off-limits. "They condescended to let me use my own name as an e-mail address. Wasn't that gracious?" Dr. Libshitz remarks.

Dr. Libshitz is not alone to face a racism issue in the world of internet, and especially from ISPs who wear eye blind to ban names like his without asking/confirming first. And this doesn't only happened to names, but also to a small town in England, read the whole stories at JR Raphael's article from PC World.

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