Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Smearers Beware

People in this City of ours, Windsor, have a voice that they use on the Internet whether in a BLOG or in a Newsgroup or in a Forum.

Contrary though to what many believe, the ability to remain "anonymous" over the Internet is not as easy as one might think. There are tools that can be used to track people down who act inappropriately.

Now it's a Canadian Court who will allow a person who may have been slandered over the internet or by email to find out who did it.

It's complicated though but the legal system is learning how to deal with it.

This would make a great law student exam question:

Let's assume a Canadian resident who works or studies in the US sets up a Google BLOGGER website to smear a Canadian. If the Blogger writes in the US or Canada or both, which court should issue the order to Google to release the person's name? Does it matter if the website was started in the US or Canada?

Here is a report of a case from the Varsity newspaper where the circumstances were not as difficult. Just see what the Court did:
  • "York U wins court order to reveal authors of accusatory emails

    Google, Bell, and Rogers fork over customer identities and contacts

    Following court orders, Google Inc., along with telecommunications giants Rogers and Bell Canada, has handed over the IP addresses and customer information of several York faculty members who anonymously sent out emails accusing the university of academic fraud.

    The legal action took place after York President Mamdouth Shoukri announced Martin Singer as the first dean of the university’s newly formed Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies in January, calling him a “renowned scholar of Chinese history.” Several faculty members were quick to point out that this claim was fraudulent and that Singer’s academic record was spotty at best...

    Disgruntled faculty members formed the group and used a Gmail account to send the emails. After Noble refused demands from York to reveal the names of the others involved in the group, York won a court order forcing Google to list the IP addresses of those who accessed the account.

    Rogers Communications and Bell Canada were named as the Internet service providers of the identified IP addresses. In August, York then got a court order compelling the two companies to hand over customers’ contact information. Both Rogers and Bell complied without notable objection.

    “What they [York admin] are doing is, they’re establishing a precedent: going after people’s emails,” said Noble. “At York, people say, ‘I’m not going to use the York email because that’s being monitored, so they set up something else, like a Gmail or Hotmail or something like that. What this [legal action] means is that’s not good enough either because [York admin] are going to try and go after that too.”

In other words, smear at your own risk!