One of the questions that we have been grappling with as part of the project has to do with false – that is, entirely fabricated – identities: who owns them? Can they be inhabited, co-opted by someone else? Does that count as identity theft? (Not in the legal definition, which entails the assumption of another legal identity to obtain goods or funds.) How can you steal an identity that is not authentic – that is, essentially, nobody’s – to begin with?
One of the high profile cases that has been of interest to us, then, involves the Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield is well known for using alter egos to front his businesses – in 2004, he reportedly spoke at a conference as Michael Green, an internet marketing guru. Shapps has since distanced himself from these activities and stopped operating HowToCorp, the get-rich-quick internet marking site that Green set up in 2005. Last year Shapps said that he had stopped using Green and other identities long ago.
If “Michael Green” is fabricated, though – a puppet – can anybody be the puppeteer?
Those gathered at this week’s BE Festival in Birmingham had the chance to find out, as Green made his comeback appearance. And his advice on making money online – plus a few pithy comments on capitalism – went down a storm. “This is the best thing I’ve seen so far,” said one person in the audience, clearly impressed with Michael’s business know-how and keen to get started on a new venture.
Such was the success of Michael’s presentation that he is looking at visiting a number of venues around the UK. In the meantime, you can visit http://www.howtocorp.org, and get daily tips from Michael @MGreenHowToCorp.