judge orders release of names and email addresses for defamatory posts

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Old 04-17-2010, 10:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Rarely known for their civility, online exchanges can degenerate into vicious slanging matches among people hiding behind pseudonyms. But a judge in Halifax has lobbed in a reminder that Internet anonymity has its limits.

After considering for only a few minutes, the judge told Google Inc. to give up information about a person who had used a gmail account to disseminate allegedly defamatory information about senior fire officials.

Madam Justice Heather Robertson of Nova Scotia Supreme Court also ordered The Coast, an alternative weekly, to give up personal information about people who used the newspaper’s website to post allegedly defamatory information about the men.

The decision surprised some, because Divisional Court judges in Ottawa are still weighing whether to protect the anonymity of Web posters named in a libel action. In that case, critics have warned about a possible chill in online freedom of expression.

“Once you unmask somebody, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa, said Wednesday. “Is it good enough to merely make an allegation, or do they have to show [damages] before anyone is unmasked?”

But Judge Robertson saw little to debate.

“You need to identify these individuals who have committed the alleged defamation, and you can’t start an action until you know who they are,” she said to lawyer Michelle Awad, who is acting for Halifax Fire Chief Bill Mosher and his deputy, Stephen Thurber.

“The court doesn’t condone the conduct of anonymous Internet users who make defamatory comments. They, like other people, have to be accountable for their actions.”
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Coast editor Kyle Shaw said the paper would hand over names and e-mail addresses of the online commentators.

“The Internet is a world where everything is tracked and people think there’s anonymity, but there’s almost no anonymity on the Internet,” he told reporters. “If anybody thinks it’s utterly free and anonymous and untraceable, they are mistaken.”
Google and weekly paper ordered to identify online posters - The Globe and Mail
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Old 04-17-2010, 10:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ah man. Can't mak efun of DK anymore
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Ah man. Can't mak efun of DK anymore
Yeah bitch. Imma sue you for all your worth! (which is probably around 5 cents, give or take)
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yea man and I have to spend that all on your mom tonight. Gonna be broke
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yea man and I have to spend that all on your mom tonight. Gonna be broke
Maybe I can give you a cash advance. I already owe your mom about $100 anyway.
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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but since your gonna sue me anyways you might as well keep the money
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Old 04-18-2010, 12:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yea man and I have to spend that all on your mom tonight. Gonna be broke
She gives change ...

Uh oh, Now I'm going to be "unmasked"
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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This is NOT a good thing.

This is just another step in making the internet as over-controlled as real life.

Hate it.
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This is NOT a good thing.

This is just another step in making the internet as over-controlled as real life.

Hate it.
It creeps me out a bit. It's like Big Brother bullshit sometimes.... someone is always watching.
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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This is NOT a good thing.

This is just another step in making the internet as over-controlled as real life.

Hate it.
just out of curiosity, why is it that the internet should be different than 'real life'? why is it that, just because you have supposed anonymity, you should be able to do things, like slander, that you wouldn't be allowed to do in person?

i don't really get why people think the web should be some sort of place where law has no relevance. it's still slander, and the anonymity makes it all the more dangerous. i'd rather see law apply than have some place where people can hide behind a veil of facelessness and throw barbs at whomever they please. slander is slander.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:23 AM   #12 (permalink)
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just out of curiosity, why is it that the internet should be different than 'real life'? why is it that, just because you have supposed anonymity, you should be able to do things, like slander, that you wouldn't be allowed to do in person?

i don't really get why people think the web should be some sort of place where law has no relevance. it's still slander, and the anonymity makes it all the more dangerous. i'd rather see law apply than have some place where people can hide behind a veil of facelessness and throw barbs at whomever they please. slander is slander.
I can see both sides of it, but i have to agree with you. The fact is the internet has become such a massive part of society it's rediculous. What will the internet be like in 10yrs, at some point some guidelines of dercorum need to be implemented otherwise it's only gonna get worse. I mean taunting and degrading on the internet has led to suicides. That in and of itself should be a warning sign. But how does it get regulated or implemented on a regular basis. It's not easy to do with something so vast, with little to no precedence.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:35 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I can see both sides of it, but i have to agree with you. The fact is the internet has become such a massive part of society it's rediculous. What will the internet be like in 10yrs, at some point some guidelines of dercorum need to be implemented otherwise it's only gonna get worse. I mean taunting and degrading on the internet has led to suicides. That in and of itself should be a warning sign. But how does it get regulated or implemented on a regular basis. It's not easy to do with something so vast, with little to no precedence.
my issue is not so much with taunting, bullying, etc, and more to do with things like slander, defamation and libel. i'm thinking of public figures - politicians, leaders of industry, etc having smear campaigns and outright lies perpetuatted against tham that damage public reputation and trust. not to say that these people are more important, but that the scale of the defamation creates an unsustainable public sphere.

that said, the smaller scale issues that you mentioned likely need to be addressed as well. there is a piece about public decorum that is obviously missing from the web, but the basics of libel law need to come first.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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just out of curiosity, why is it that the internet should be different than 'real life'? why is it that, just because you have supposed anonymity, you should be able to do things, like slander, that you wouldn't be allowed to do in person?

i don't really get why people think the web should be some sort of place where law has no relevance. it's still slander, and the anonymity makes it all the more dangerous. i'd rather see law apply than have some place where people can hide behind a veil of facelessness and throw barbs at whomever they please. slander is slander.
I think the reason why I feel that it is different is that using the internet is generally a choice.

Sure you might have to use the internet for your job but in terms of using it for a social aspect, that is your own risk.

Yes, slander is still slander, and if it passes the legal definition of slander then restitution is in order.

Slander is very difficult to prove anyways because actual harm is difficult to measure. If I call you a lying scumbag in the context of an argument but an unlimited number of people can read it, is it now slander instead of just something said in a heated exchange?

Message boards like this could have people dragged out for slander. We don't need things like that tying up court time. It's a massive waste of resources!

The site hosting the material should be considered responsible for that content. It is very easy to sue them, why do the people involved have to be known? If the site wants to turn around and sue the users they can very easily do so, or attempt to, as they have access to the users IP's or personal data. If they don't have the personal data, they are SOL.

We need to encourage proper agreements with the hosts and the end user. This can be accomplished by holding the host accountable for the data stored on their sites. This should be where the government/law energy is focussed.

You also get into issues with what laws apply where in terms of internet use. I can set up a site in Nigeria that slanders someone, under what Nigerian law will you sue me?

I am for control, but these sites on the internet, in many ways constitute their own communities. Why should the rules of one country govern them when the users are international?

Within your own community, come your own laws. Sites should govern themselves as such but will answer to the host country's laws in dispute. The site, not the user.

Next thing you know I'll get called in as a fucking witness to "internet slander" because my IP was logged into the chat room at the time.

Fuck that.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I should be allowed to say whatever the fuck I want whenever the fuck I want to whoever the fuck I want.

I should be able to smoke inside of buildings

I should be allowed to but pot at the store

I should be allowed to drive without my seatbelt on

I should be allowed to step onto the street with a beer

I should be allowed to go nude at the beach






It is just a bunch of little bitches wanting to "control" things that have no business being controled.

Lets all get surgury to look exactly alike
Lets all dress the same
Drive the same car
shop at the same place
work the same jobs
listen to sthe same music
and all weight in at under 70lbs to complete the look.

Fuck what this world is turning into.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:40 PM   #16 (permalink)
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i don't entirely disagree with you, but the case at hand, iirc, was that someone made several slanderous comments about senior fire officials in nova scotia on a newspaper website. those officials were not involved in that web-based discussion, and they were targeted because they were public officials and someone wanted to sound off on them anonymously. to me, that's very dangerous, and certainly slander.

as i said in an earlier post, i'm not as concerned with taunting and stuff like that. to me this is about slander on a more formal level. the web shouldn't grant you immunity because you have the ability to appear anonymous.

and as for hosts being accountable - that would be a serious problem. anyone that operated/hosted a chat room, a message board, a user comments section, or anything like that would be liable for any message left by any user anywhere in the world. it would be impossible to manage that. i think you'd find that sites would disappear really quickly. i don't mean to speak for rf here. think of a newspaper. the g&m gives you the ability to comment on articles. they do that because of popular demand and the fact that it creates a community and drives traffic to their sites. but those topics get very political, and extremely douchy at times. i'm willing to bet that they would shut down in a second if the g&m could be held liable for any post made on their site. you can't police everything in real time. no one is funded for that kind of effort.

i just reacted to your comment that "this is not a good thing". to me, in this type of case where the people being slandered weren't even taking part in the online activity, and where there is clear evidence that this was a case of slander by a person who's anonymity is only protected by the web, it is a very good thing. it would be a problem if taken to an extreme, but public figures would be easy targets if they had no protection from slander on the web at all.

the internationalism of it presents problems, but that's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Snooch View Post
I should be allowed to say whatever the fuck I want whenever the fuck I want to whoever the fuck I want.

I should be able to smoke inside of buildings

I should be allowed to but pot at the store

I should be allowed to drive without my seatbelt on

I should be allowed to step onto the street with a beer

I should be allowed to go nude at the beach






It is just a bunch of little bitches wanting to "control" things that have no business being controled.

Lets all get surgury to look exactly alike
Lets all dress the same
Drive the same car
shop at the same place
work the same jobs
listen to sthe same music
and all weight in at under 70lbs to complete the look.

Fuck what this world is turning into.
every single thing you wrote here is complete nonsense.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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every single thing you wrote here is complete nonsense.
how do you figure, cant say things even on the internet now?

I should be able to say whatever I want whenever I want.

I guess you feel that everything in life should be monitored and watched by some panel somewhere deeming what is appropriate or what isnt?

If I want to speak derogatorily toward someone else I should not have to worry about the law coming down on me.
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Old 04-23-2010, 05:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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how do you figure, cant say things even on the internet now?

I should be able to say whatever I want whenever I want.

I guess you feel that everything in life should be monitored and watched by some panel somewhere deeming what is appropriate or what isnt?

If I want to speak derogatorily toward someone else I should not have to worry about the law coming down on me.
that's why we have a limit on free speech here in canada. you can't slander people because public reputations are crucially important to people, especially to public figures. you can't make up stories that a superior court judge, for instance, is taking bribes because it would damage his/her ability to be a judge, and it would impose significant hardships on them to have to publicly defend themselves. you can't call a school teacher a pedophile publicly unless you are bringing a legal suit against thm or having them arrested. if you were allowed to make false claims like that there would be chaos. anyone, anywhere could target you and tear you to shreds and there woulnd't be a damn thing you could do about it. you may not care, but if you held public office or were a leader of industry or a teacher or a doctor or something like that you sure would. our social fabric is very much based on people's reputations. they have the right to guard them against false accusations.

you can't make hate speech that incites violence because it poses unsurmountable problems for a peaceful civil society.

you can't lie in a court of law.

you can't sexually harrass coworkers because it creates untenable working conditions for the person being harrassed.

these are all examples of speech you shouldn't be able to make.

this shadowy panel that watches everything is called the legal system, and, in terms of speech, it only watches what people bring to it. if i think you slandered me, i can take you to court. no one is watching and hauling people off to jail when they say something. people can bring complaints, and then the legal system processes those compaints according to law made by the people we elect. i don't see how this angers you so, since it is the basis of most liberal democracies.

and democracy is the basis of all of this. you think you should be able to smoke anywhere. i don't want to inhale your smoke. we are two citizens with opposite claims. the elected officials take those claims, debate them, invite public feedback and then give us law. that is a fair democracy. what is unfair is snooch gets to do whatever he wants, no one can say or do anyting to stop him, to hell with anyone else's health.

same thing for driving without a seatbelt. if you get injured in an accident, you are eligible for health care, the state will help you look after your kids while you recover, police, fire and ambulance people are all paid to care for you, etc. to receive these benifits, the law, after reviewing the literature and getting feedback, asks you to take precautions that will lower your risk so that snooch can't take as much risk with taxpayer money and resources when he decides to drive. simple. democratic process.

Last edited by 'trane; 04-23-2010 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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All of it is taking away freedoms that I have as a human being.

I fi dont wear a seatbelt healthcare shouldnt cover my medical expenses resulting in injuries caused.

And I could write all the inflamatory words I want in book form and it would be allowed to go to print and people would read it. But to speak those words is wrong. They are forever just words, the delivery of those words shouldnt make any difference.

And in regards to a peacful society stuff, if simple words spoken can incite violence then the society itself isnt truely peacfull.
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