The unanimous judicial ruling said a lot. A teenage girl who alleges she was defamed on a bogus Facebook page can go ahead with a lawsuit without having to identify herself – so ruled Supreme Court of Canada judges 7-0 on Thursday.
The Canadian justice system doesn’t allow identification of youthful victims under other circumstances. It’s fitting that it wouldn’t in an instance of alleged Internet bullying. A person shouldn’t be victimized a second time.
This case, involving a Nova Scotia girl and her family, raised attention across the country. That’s not surprising, since it involved not only this challenge for the victim to pursue the accused anonymously, but also the hideous crime of online bullying.
The girl was 15 when she claims to have been defamed by a bogus Facebook page with sexual content and other humiliating information. She and her family sought through the courts to have the Internet service provider reveal who had set up the fake file.
A funny thing about the Internet, it makes people very brave when it comes to accosting others, and that includes in particular those who like to bully. They relish the anonymity.
With that advantage cyberbullying among younger people has grown to the point where the physical threat on the playground is heard of less than the hurt victims feel in their circles because of the widespread use of social media.
Considering we’ve had stories in this province – and elsewhere – of young people ending their lives after being harassed relentlessly online, obviously some checks in the system are overdue.
This ruling should help get the across message that people can’t simply hide within the vast cyber universe and assault people. Internet represents a far-reaching tool with seemingly endless capabilities regarding information and messaging. When its use drifts into criminal purposes, thus prompting certain “freedoms” to be curtailed for the perpetrators, they’ve only brought it upon themselves.