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Court ruling: girl may change first name based on digital voice assistant

In an unprecedented court ruling from Lower Saxony, the name change was enforced due to the identical name to a digital voice assistant. A preschool-age girl from Lower Saxony may be given a middle name, the Göttingen Administrative Court has now ruled. The parents had sued because their daughter suffered significantly from bullying and teasing.

“Voice assistant, change your name”

At the administrative court in Göttingen, a pair of parents who sued have now been granted justice. They had wanted to obtain permission for a second given name for their daughter, who bears the same name as a well-known female voice assistant.

Because of her first name, the girl suffered considerably from bullying and teasing. “Time and again, other people would give orders to the plaintiff because the name was immediately associated with the voice assistant’s name,” according to a notice from the court.

This led to an enormous mental strain on the girl. The defendant city held however against it and saw according to § 3 exp. 1 NamÄndG no important reason for a name change. This was also because apparently no medical or psychological proof of the mental stress was presented.

Rather, the request to change the first name is based on the parents’ remorse for having named their daughter after the digital voice assistant. A product name alone is not automatically sufficient to be able to assert a claim for a name change.“Overall, virtually any name can be drawn into ridicule with some imagination,” it continues.

Mental stress as a reason for name change

The judgment (file number 4 A 79/21) was already made on 21 June 2022, but was only now made public in the press release. In the oral hearing, the 4th chamber of the Administrative Court of Göttingen came to the conclusion that a mental burden for the plaintiff is very well an important reason for a name change, if the private interests in the name change outweigh the public interests.

Accordingly, an emotional burden is an important reason for a name change, if it is “under consideration of the given circumstances according to general traffic perception understandable and justified”. Whether this is worthy of treatment and a medical or psychological treatment already takes place, is unimportant according to the opinion of the court for this.

In the case of the judgement made now the parents would have described in detail and plausibly, how their daughter was bullied and teased because of her name. The corresponding mental strain on the girl, which the plaintiff could not counteract due to her young age, was comprehensible to the court.

Name as a keyword decisive factor

Since the name is precisely not only a product name, but it also represents the keyword for activating the digital voice assistant, this is “in a particularly outstanding degree suitable for abuse,” said the court.

In this context, the name is not only suitable for simple word jokes, but also invites insulting and humiliating commands directly to the girl. The child in question may now be given a middle name, which can henceforth be used as a call name. A change of the family name would not become necessary, so the name change here would be less weighty. The city administration in Göttingen can still appeal against the verdict within one month after receiving it.

However, the court did not reveal whether the girl bears the name of Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, or Apple’s counterpart, Siri, presumably for reasons of protection.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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In an unprecedented court ruling from Lower Saxony, the name change was enforced due to the identical name to a digital voice assistant. A preschool-age girl from Lower Saxony may be given a middle name, the Göttingen Administrative Court has now ruled. The parents had sued because their daughter suffered significantly from bullying and teasing. … (Weiterlesen...)

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