Canadian Court Orders Website To Disclose Personal Info Of Posters

from the anonymity-be-damned dept

We've noted, thankfully, that US courts have been quite good about protecting the anonymity of online posters, arguing that anonymous speech is a part of free speech. Other countries haven't been nearly as good about this, with courts often being quick to demand info on anonymous commenters. It appears that at least one court in Canada falls into that camp as well. Michael Geist highlights how a court has ordered a website to turn over info on anonymous posters. Geist notes that Canadian laws and court rulings normally do support a strong anonymity right as part of privacy rights -- but suggests that the court in this case simply wanted to side with the guy suing, perhaps based more on emotional reasons (the anonymous commenters are accused of hate speech) rather than on any true legal basis. As Geist notes, anonymity is not an absolute right, but the bar should be pretty high before a court orders any information to be revealed about anonymous commenters. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:36pm

    The balance between protecting hate speech versus protecting privacy. I think the hate speech pretty much voids anyone's privacy rights.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:19pm

    and that's par for the course aye ?

     

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  3.  
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    Nathan, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:38pm

    Re:

    And that's why your a fascist.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:54pm

    The Court's Job

    The court's job is to ensure that political correctness is achieved. Thus, the court will interpret or reinterpret laws as needed to to meet today's political correctness objectives. As far as "any true legal basis" is concerned, remember that the law means whatever the judge says it means, at least until a higher ranking judge says otherwise. That makes it a "true legal basis". So if the judge rules that rights of anonymity no longer apply to those accused of "hate speech" (or other unpopular speech), then so be it.

     

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  5.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Nice try guys. Basically, the court appears to be giving no more privacy to someone online than they would have on the street.

    Hiding behind an internet account shouldn't be an excuse to forget every other law on the books.

     

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  6.  
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    tim, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    posting an anonymous comment on an internet forum should be the same as pinning a piece of paper to a local noticeboard. if no one sees you do it, the message is up, and no one knows who put it there. if people find it offensive, they can ask for it to be taken down. The only time they should be requesting info on anonymous posts is if they directly admit to a crime.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:54pm

    i cant really say if the court was right in this case since i don't know the details, but in Canada they make it a point to make a big deal out of racism (even when its not).

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    Re:

    The balance between protecting hate speech versus protecting privacy. I think the hate speech pretty much voids anyone's privacy rights.

    You've said some pretty hateful things online... and yet you seem to be semi-anonymous. Why don't you reveal who you are. Or let Mike post your IP address?

    Or do you have double standards when it comes to yourself?

     

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  9.  
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    mattyk, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    You jumped on this slippery slope pretty quick Harold. What exactly is this 'Hate speech' of which you speak? Could it be a loose term devised mostly to enforce political correctness over freedom of expression? Is it now unacceptable to hate anything and say so?
    Fair enough if the posters were inciting/organizing violence but unfortunately, once a precedent is set like this, its almost impossible to reverse.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:18pm

    Re:

    Hiding behind an internet account shouldn't be an excuse to forget every other law on the books.
    Ha, that's funny coming from someone hiding behind an internet account!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 1:08am

    Re:

    Basically, the court appears to be giving no more privacy to someone online than they would have on the street.

    At lot less, actually. As much as you might want to WH, you can't go out and start stopping people on the street and demanding their identity papers. (Even if you suspect that their iPod may contain some "unlicensed" music.)

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 4:53am

    Re:

    Hate speech has some pretty clear connotations, at least in Canada.

    Holocaust deniers are at the top of the list.

    Please, use google, and see what you find on the subject. We aren't talking about "your mother is ugly" sort of thing.

     

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  13.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    Re:

    First, you need to be arrested just for that sentence. That's treasonous.

    Second, I think I'm missing something. Depending on what was said (I believe true hate speech is illegal), it would seem that a proper court order was filed to release the information for only those who wrote it.

    Can someone explain how this is a precedence that can risk legal posters privacy?

     

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  14.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re:

    Nobody is suggesting that. Perhaps unlike the US, Canada is not made up of a bunch of people arguing bizarre absolutes and calling it constitutional law.

    The courts didn't grant me rights to interrogate anyone. They just removed the cover of anonymity from bastards that would use that cover to spread hatred. I don't see where they went wrong. No, I can't stop people on the street and ask them anything, I am not the law. Your point is incredibly stupid.

     

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  15.  
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    Weird Harold Basher, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 6:17am

    Re: And what's next...

    Yup... we ban hate speech... then what... hurtful speech... then speech against the government... then what? Any speech that the "censors" don't like?

    Exceptions should be made extremely sparingly. Free speech is one of the biggest things that seperate us from places like China.

     

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  16.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: And what's next...

    Another effing stupid slippery slope argument.

     

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  17.  
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    Ryan, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re:

    I deny the Holocaust.

    *GASP* My God, I have committed a terrible crime and callously tread all over your rights! Call the SWAT van!

     

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  18.  
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    Ryan, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: And what's next...

    I also notice that you anonymously inferred that another poster is "effin stupid". This, to me, is libelous and hateful toward another person. You should be held civilly and criminally liable for your actions and tried in an International Court of Law. I will notify the police...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re:

    I don't understand how denying historical fact is "hate speech." In most other contexts, it's just called "stupid."

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nobody is suggesting that.

    You were the very one who made the comparison of anonymous internet posters to people walking down the street as justification for demanding their identities. So yes, somebody did suggest that, and that somebody was YOU. Of course, as soon as somebody shines a light on you, you try to scurry away. Well here you go, have some more light. :)

    The courts didn't grant me rights to interrogate anyone.

    Until you file your lawsuit, that is. Then you can issue your subpoena and interrogate them. Left that part out, didn't you? Of course you did, because that's the way you roll.

    They just removed the cover of anonymity from bastards that would use that cover to spread hatred.

    Oh, I'm sorry if it sounds like I hate you. Please don't sue me. (snicker)

    I don't see where they went wrong.

    Of course you don't. By the way, when are you doing to reveal YOUR true identity?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Thomas Whitney, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Basically what we are talking about is "a thought crime", which really has very huge Orwellian ramifications.

    Is it a crime to think? Or write about your thinking in a free society?

    The real issue is securing the anonymonty of the poster. And that takes some measure of effort by the poster him or herself.

    This site: http://www.justaskgemalto.com is very educational about this topic.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If a guy is walking down a street yelling hate crimes or painting swatiskas on jewish owned business , I take his picture and I call the police. I don't walk up to him and ask his name.

    But online, the only picture that is taken is his IP address (and maybe other logged information). Should he have more protection online than he would on the street? Should he be able to "virtually" deface a jewish website and get away with it only because he is online, and not in the real world?

    My full identity is readily available, I don't hide anything, Mr Anonymous Coward.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Truly a slipper slope, this one

    It's unfortunate that the slippery slope argument is so overused today that it's become the cry of "wolf", but this is a situation where it truly is relevant, IMO, for a number of reasons:

    1. Outlawing hate speech sounds great (Pro-Nazi, anti-Jew, anti-immigrant rants really are horrid and I hate them), but who gets to define what hate speech is? When does hate speech turn into sedition? And if you think that's an irrelevant argument, consider not only Nazi Germany, but the concentration camps that existed w/i this very country during WWII. This type of thing truly can happen, but only if we let it.

    2. Because hate speech is essentially a construct of point of view, how long before people who have the power to do so regularly use the term "hate speech" to enforce censorship? How long before simply saying, "I kind of think it was wrong to displace a bunch of Palestinians and have the UN unilaterally create the state of Israel on land that is considered super holy to 3 distinct religions", is attacked as being hate speech because it is anti-Semetic? (Btw, this already occurs)

    3. Where is the line on being offended? A majority population actually has a greater power to enforce censorship through a perceived or manufactured "offense", because they have greater control over the government, business, and legal system. Government has the obligation to protect the minority's right to be heard, and allowing this sort of precedent could have the unintended consequence of silencing those folks.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Truly a slipper slope, this one

    here is an example of a fine upstanding citizen who's views should be shared and tolerated:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Z%C3%BCndel

    He tried to get Shindler's list banned because it was hate speech against Germans.

    Class act all the way.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Mark Fournier, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Free Dominion case

    To set the record straight, this is not a hate speech case, it is a defamation case in civil court.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If a guy is walking down a street yelling hate crimes or painting swatiskas on jewish owned business , I take his picture and I call the police. I don't walk up to him and ask his name.

    This case isn't about the police investigating a crime like you seem to be trying to pretend. It's about private entities demanding people's identities. Big difference. So there goes that straw man, you got any more?

    My full identity is readily available, I don't hide anything, Mr Anonymous Coward.

    Oh yeah? Well then, please provide your full name, residence, and social security or other national identity number. That'll be a start to establishing your identity, more steps will follow. But I'm betting that you're full of crap and won't do it.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Morgan Painter, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 9:17pm

    Hate crime?

    The fellows are accused of a hate crime.
    Seems to me the issue is whether a crime was committed. That should be determined first.

    If there was no hate crime, issue settled. If there was a hate crime then let's get on with it. Hate crime if clearly defined, is punishable by law.

    If the offender can be identified electronically so be it. How is that different than using a surveillance camera image to see who painted a swastika on a Jewish synagogue or a hangman's noose on the door of an African-American church?

    I am personally fed up with the spineless buggers who post hateful, disrespectful comments knowing fully well no one knows who they are. They type things they would be scared to speak in your presence because they are worthless cowards. But on the net, they become macho man, fearless and bold. I say burn their sorry butts, nail them to the wall.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    charllotte, May 3rd, 2009 @ 4:33am

    Dear Friend,

    From: charllottaadams20@yahoo.com>
    Subject: CHARITY DONATION FROM

    *
    Dear Friend,

    I am Mrs charllotteadams, A complete citizen of Philippines . I was the Wife of Late charles adams of Philippines he worked with America Embassy as An Ambassador for years and hold other Political position in Philippines before he died in the year July 27 2003. We were married for 14 years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his
    death we were both born again Christians and we lived happilly. Since his death, I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is really against.

    Before my husband Death I inherited a total sum of 9 million dollars from my late him when he was in his Sick bed, This money which is concealed in a metallic trunk box is deposited with a security and finance company in Cote d' ivoire under a secret arrangement as a family treasure. This mea ns that the security company does not know the content of this box that was shipped from the Philippine to Cote d' ivoire under a diplomatic coverage.
    Recently l Fell Sick and my Doctor told me that from all the test conducted on my health, I am not going to last long, expecially, due to my Throat cancer and stroke. But what disturbs me most now is stroke.
    Having known my condition, I decided to donate this fund to churches or Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct. I want a church or individual that will use this money to fund churches, Orphanages and Widows. Also, the propagation of the work of God, building and maintaining the house of God through this money, is very important.
    The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth.

    I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and they have inherited all my late Husband Properties because l could'nt bear a Child for their Late brother. I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers, for their own selfish interest and in an ungodly manner. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bossom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.
    I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health, and because of the presence of my husband's relatives around me sometimes. I don't want them to know about this development, but I know that With God all things are possible.

    As soon as I receive your reply in my next mail I shall give you the contact of the Security and finance company in Ivory coast and the Authorization Certificate which is the Certificate of deposit that they gave me on the very day when the box of money was deposited under their company to enable you call them and give them your address for the immediate shipment of the box to you as the original- beneficiary of this fund.
    I want you and your church to always pray for me because God work in misterious ways. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Who ever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

    Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or christian individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. Hoping to hear from you soon .Indicate your intrest.

    Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.
    Yours in Christ,
    Mrs charllotteadams

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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