reply to MaynardKrebs
Re: Lawful Access articles - collection Why faceless sniping deserves protection
However, there was a larger point at play here: The ruling reinforces the idea that there should be a high bar for unmasking online commentators. Among other factors, courts are now considering whether these commentators have a reasonable expectation of anonymity, and whether the public interest in disclosing a commenter's identity outweighs the interests of free expression and the right to privacy. This is all the more true in the case of public officials, who on one hand wield power, and on the other should be better prepared than private citizens for criticism.
The fact that courts are thinking long and hard about whether privacy should be stripped from anonymous commenters should serve as a deterrent for piqued politicians who think they've found an easy way to unmask their critics. The ruling hardly guarantees online privacy in the future: The federal Conservatives are pondering lawful access legislation that would require Internet service providers to cough up identifying information to law-enforcement agencies without a court order. All the same, the Ontario Superior Court ruling is a step in the right direction.