Practical Technology

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Google+, Real Names, and Groklaw’s Pamela Jones


Around and around we go with Google+’s real name policy. Sometimes, Google seems ready to reconsider its policy of requiring Google+ social network user to use their “real name,” but then Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, “justifies” the strict real name policy by saying, “Google+ is completely optional.” Sigh. That really misses the point. Rather than rehash the virtues of allowing people to use pseudonyms, I thought I’d ask someone who has both a noteworthy online identity and a long history of having trouble with keeping the public out of her private life: Groklaw’s founder Pamela Jones.

For those of you who missed it, Pamela “PJ” Jones started the intellectual property (IP) legal news and analysis Groklaw site to battle the FUD SCO was throwing out about Linux violating its Unix copyrights back in 2003. In the end, SCO was destroyed and it was proven-oh the irony-that Novell actually owned Unix’s IP.

In the meantime, though PJ, who’s a very private person, was subjected to death threats, invasion of her privacy by junkyard journalists, and even claims that she wasn’t a real person at all. There really is a PJ. I’ve met her, and as it happens her “real name” is Pamela Jones.

Just because she has a real name though and she’s a well-known online legal expert and journalist, doesn’t mean that she wants Google, or anyone else, drawing a direct line from “PJ” the paralegal and analyst/reporter and the Pamela Jones who lives at X address in Y City. So what does she think of Google’s instance of making those connections from online to real-world identities?

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