On January 13, 2010, CCLA will intervene in a motion in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to ensure that freedom of speech on the Internet is given broad protection. The motion, brought by the former mayor of the municipality of Aurora, seeks information that would reveal identifying information about an anonymous blogger(s). The former mayor has started a civil defamation action in which she takes issue with comments posted on a local Aurora blog which are critical of her work in office. The action was started by the mayor when she was still in elected office and the Aurora council had passed a resolution to fund the lawsuit. Since the mayor was unseated in the most recent municipal election, the council reconsidered and voted down that decision.
While the Internet should not be used as a shield to allow people to break the law, neither should a simple request to the courts result in disclosure of identifying information. The CCLA will argue that a freedom of speech and privacy interests should be given significant weight in making decisions of this nature, particularly when political speech is at issue. The right of individuals to comment on and criticize the way in which public officials perform their duties is vital in a democracy, and civil lawsuits should not be used to chill this kind of speech.
Read the CCLA’s factum here.