Male Attorney More Effective As Female Online

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Over at Madisonian Theory, Fred Yen notes:

Today’s has a interesting story about law firms conducting investigations to enforce clients’ IP rights on the Internet. It describes how a Covington and Burling lawyer impersonated a”flirtatious 27 year old female programmer”in chat rooms to identify software pirates and have them arrested. The rest of the story discusses online IP enforcement as a major growth area for law firms as clients spend significant resources to stop the sale of infringing goods. …

The referenced article starts out:

On the Internet, no one knows if you’re a dog. Or a well-tailored lawyer in the London office of Covington & Burling. That fact has guided Peter Anaman’s entire career over the last seven years. The 33-year-old British-trained attorney is the head of Covington’s Internet monitoring and investigation unit, and he uses multiple online personas to nail bad guys: sellers of counterfeit goods and pirated software, hackers, phishers, you name it. …

The article doesn’t explain how many of Anaman’s “multiple online personas” claim to be female, but notes that he “managed to infiltrate [a software infringement] ring in a matter of months by pretending to be a flirtatious 27-year-old female programmer who complained a lot about her boss in online chat rooms.” Perhaps it amuses Anaman that the folks he sent to prison erroneously believe they were betrayed by a women. Or maybe he correctly deduced that his targets would assume a woman was powerless and harmless, and easily let their guards down around her. I think Fred Yen is correct that using subterfuge to identify infringers is potentially unethical or illegal.

–Ann Bartow

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