Tuesday, April 6, 2010

PRESS RELEASE - Landmark Case for Internet Privacy Rights - Ottawa, April 8, 2010



Landmark Case for Internet Privacy Rights - Ottawa, April 8, 2010


On April 8, 2010, a precedent-setting case regarding internet law will be heard in the Ontario Divisional Court, at 161 Elgin St. in Ottawa.


The case is an Appeal of a lower court motion decision in the case of Warman vs Fourniers and John Does.  The ruling being appealed stated that the defendants were to turn over personal information such as IP addresses and email addresses for anonymous posters who were alleged to have defamed the plaintiff.  The defendants' position is that online anonymity should be protected until it is clear that there is a strong case that a "John Doe" has broken the law.


People post anonymously for many reasons.  They discuss politics, spiritual issues, health problems and relationship problems under pseudonyms.  Revealing the true identities of the people behind these usernames is an unspeakable invasion of their privacy, and should only be done when it is absolutely necessary.  It should never been done simply because someone makes an accusation of libel.


Intervening at the hearing will be the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, [CCLA Factum here] and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. [CIPPIC Factum]  Both of these organizations will be arguing that there is a duty to protect online anonymity, and that is it not addressed in the law, as it currently stands.


The issues in this appeal have far-reaching implications for people who post anonymously on the internet, and for forum and blog owners who have a duty of care when it comes to the private information of their posters.


The internet is changing the way we live our lives in Canada, and this case will be one of the first to address the changes that need to be made in our laws to accomodate new technology.




Connie Fournier

(613) 888-1169







Also see:


·        Michael Geist: Ontario Court Orders Website To Disclose Identity of Anonymous Posters

·        Wise Law:  Warman and Fournier - Online Anonymity Threatened in Ontario

·        CCLA’s press release at:  http://ccla.org/?p=2627



CCLA to advocate for safeguards to protect Internet anonymity

October 5th, 2009

On September 22, 2009, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted CCLA leave to intervene in the case of Warman v. Fournier and John Does 1-8 (Court File No. 09-DV-1512). The case arises from a lawsuit which alleges that some anonymous comments made on an Internet discussion forum are defamatory. The website operators, as well as eight “John Doe” commentators, are named as defendants. The Court will be asked to decide the circumstances under which a website operator can be forced to turn over information that would ‘unmask’ anonymous forum commentators.

CCLA believes that, while the Internet should not be used as a shield to allow individuals to break the law, neither should a simple request to the Courts result in the disclosure of identifying information. Highly personal communication occurs online. Indeed, many use online anonymity as a way to explore difficult issues (political, legal, sexual, medical, etc.) that they might not feel free to explore publicly. The Internet is a highly accessible democratic forum, with virtually limitless opportunities for discussion and debate. Court orders that force individuals to reveal the identity of those who choose to participate anonymously could well chill this rigorous discussion, particularly on sensitive personal topics. Anonymity on the Internet should not be compromised simply because a private individual has filed a statement of claim.

To read CCLA’s factum click here.