Richard Warman vs Personal Privacy and Internet Anonymity
April 8, 2010
161 Elgin Street
On April 8, 2010 in Ottawa a Divisional Court Justice will hear an appeal of a disclosure ruling in the Richard Warman vs The Fourniers and John Does 1-8.civil case. At issue is whether the Fourniers, operators of the Free Dominion website, should be compelled to disclose confidential information about the website’s members to the plaintiff, Richard Warman. Last year Superior Court Justice Stanly Kershman ruled for the plaitiff in a motion he brought forth seeking information he hopes to use to identify the John Does who posted anonymously in Free Dominion’s political discussion forum. Four of the eight John Does have already been identified by the plaintiff and have been added to the underlying defamation suit brought forth by Warman.
The defamation case itself will by necessity bring forth a number of public interest issues such as freedom of speech, political commentary and opinion but it will also venture into several areas where our laws are outdated by internet communications. The internet has given us a means to communicate that was inconceivable when our current defamation laws were written and those laws are now in need of legislative upgrades. Until those legal updates are made though we will have to fight for our internet anonymity and personal privacy in the courts.
This appeal of the disclosure ruling of Kershman is more important than the case from which it grew. There are now privacy issues at stake that didn’t previously exist. Outing someone’s internet alias can have far-reaching effects that should not be on the table in a minor civil squabble. Because of the serious privacy issues surrounding this appeal of Kershman’s disclosure ruling, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic will be intervening. This is good news for those on the freedom side of the debate.
Nothing will bring justice in our courts and action in our parliament like public interest and participation in these cases. If you are near Ottawa and can get the time to go to the courthouse on Elgin Street please do so on April 8, 2010. This is an important battle in the ongoing contest to protect our freedom and it should be witnessed by the public.
See you there!
Apparently, the time has not yet been set – but the Fourniers will be at the Courthouse by 9 am.