NewsThu Mar 26, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Canadian Conservative Web Forum Loses First Round in Human Rights Commission Case
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
OTTAWA, March 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Mark and Connie Fournier of Free Dominion, a Canadian conservative web forum, have been ordered by judge Stanley Kershman of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to turn over the IP (internet protocol) addresses and email addresses of the eight Free Dominion "John Does" (anonymous blog posters) who Richard Warman has named as co-defendants in his libel suit against Free Dominion.
Warman is a former Canadian Human Rights Commission "hate speech" investigator who has launched some 25 human rights complaints against some of the most prominent conservative publications, journalists and bloggers in Canada. He has sued the Fourniers, as well as Kate McMillan of the blog "Small Dead Animals," Kathy Shaidle of the blog "Five Feet of Fury," the National Post and its editor Jonathan Kay, and Canadian lawyer and conservative journalist Ezra Levant for what Levant described as "our criticisms of his tactics, especially his habit of posting bigoted comments online, posing as a neo-Nazi." (See Richard Warman, Canada’s Serial Human Rights Complainant, Now Sues National Post Newspaper, Others: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08041008.html)
Mark Fournier wrote on Free Dominion this week "The judge has ruled in favour of Richard Warman and ordered that we release this confidential information to Warman and that we pay him over $5,000 in costs."
Describing the implications of this judgment, Fournier warned that the anonymity of posters on any Canadian web forum or blog is now at risk.
"This ruling means a number of things. Most importantly it means that anyone can gain access to a Canadian forum owner’s confidential records on its members simply by filing a lawsuit (that could later be dropped) against the forum operator.
"No forum operater (sic) in Canada, and no Canadian blogger who allows the public to post on his blog, can now safely keep any information at all about a website’s members. We highly recommend that Canadian forum operators and bloggers expunge all such records from their files and stop collecting any information that could endanger the anonymity of their posters."
Fournier explained that though Free Dominion had stopped recording the IPs of its members and visitors over a year ago, the judge’s order to divulge the private information of individuals who post their opinions on web forums with the expectation of anonymity may open them to harassment by Warman.
"There are serious implications for the John Does as well. While it is highly unlikely that an ISP (internet service provider) will have records on IPs from that long ago, and if any records do exist the data will have deteriorated to uslessness, any of the John Does might become a target of harrassment by Richard Warman. There is also a very good chance Richard Warman could end up harrassing the wrong people using this faulty data, but that’s the new reality cast by this ruling."
"We are weighing our options at this time but without the funds to appeal it seems most likely that we will have to comply. We must obey the law or we become no better than our political opponents," Fournier concluded. "We will keep everybody abreast of events as they unfold. This was only one round, the best is yet to come."
The full ruling can be read here: http://www.freedominion.com.pa/images/motion_decision.pdf
Read Ezra Levant on Free Dominion’s defense against Richard Warman’s lawsuit: http://ezralevant.com/2008/05/free-dominion-files-its-defenc.html
Read related LSN articles:
Canada’s Human Rights Commission Used to Target Conservative Website With "Hate Speech"
Human Rights Complaint Dropped Against Canadian Conservative Website