Purloined Persona or Just Another FP?
posted by Frank Pasquale
Some experts recommend a quick “self-google” each week to be sure that all the information presented about you on the web is accurate. I learned the value of that approach earlier this Spring when lawyers from a hospital in Texas asked me if I was running something called “The Paris Site,” which lambasted their management. I reassured them I had nothing to do with it, and suggested that perhaps “Frank Pasquale” is a common enough name that it was someone else with that name that was running the site. However, they’ve now sued the blog for defamation, and are alleging its owner was trying to pass himself off as me:
The hospital contends the blogger’s alias and “assumed perona” of Frank Pasquale is apparently intended to mislead readers of the blog to think the blogger is Frank Pasquale, associate professor of law at Seton Hall Law School. That Frank Pasquale is a regular contributor to several blogs, but denies any affiliation to the blog or the blogger and was unaware the blogger had appropriated his identity until it was brought to his attention by the hospital.
Apparently the ISP has 20 days to reveal the identity of the site’s owner.
I’m a bit surprised by the whole thing, since there are a lot of other bloggers who write on health care whom this person could have posed as. Strangely enough, I have also written on the “disambiguation” concerns a case like this poses. (That part of the article is probably the least realistic as a policy proposal, but I count it as one small victory that someone from Google jokingly proposed giving everyone the right to change their name at 21 in order to avoid to being linked to what they wrote before then.)
So the lesson here is: even if none of your ex’s live in Texas, someone there might be up to some trickery (with apologies to George Strait).
UPDATE: William McGeveran of Info/Law provides some great commentary on the situation here.