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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Christie Blatchford: Ruling in Twitter harassment trial could have enormous fallout for free speech


What’s believed to be the first case in Canada of alleged criminal harassment-via-Twitter is just a judge’s decision away from being over.

After hearing closing submissions Tuesday from Chris Murphy, who represents 54-year-old Greg Elliott, Ontario Court Judge Brent Knazan is expected to rule on Oct. 6.

In the balance rides enormous potential fallout for free speech online.

Elliott is charged with criminally harassing two Toronto female political activists, Steph Guthrie and Heather Reilly, in 2012.

Allegations involving a third woman were dropped.

The graphic artist and father of four lost his job shortly after his arrest, which was well-publicized online, and if convicted, could go to jail for six months.

These are astonishing repercussions given that it’s not alleged he ever threatened either woman (or any other, according to the testimony of the Toronto Police officer, Detective Jeff Bangild, who was in charge) or that he ever sexually harassed them...

See even more on this at GenuineWitty 

2 comments:

Skippy Stalin said...

I'm of mixed opinions on this. The guy trolled my blog for a couple of years and is clearly nuts.

I'm just not sure that it rises to the level of criminality.

Richard K said...

If being an annoying twitter troll is criminal, then about 90% of the idiots who troll the #topoli hashtag should be locked up.

From all I've heard, the fact that this became a criminal matter sounds absurd, and the complainant sounds like someone who is seriously off-kilter.

If we could lock them both away, or at least prevent them from having Internet access, it might be good for society, but that's an opinion and not something I'd want to see enforced by the judiciary.

Although I wouldn't be upset if we replaced non-violent drug offenders in prison with annoying Internet trolls. There's one in particular, a fat clown who GenuineWiitty has written about elsewhere, and maintains lots of sock puppet identities who posts anonymously on my blog. I rarely post his comments, and thanks to tracking and some friends in the security services, he's easy to identify when online.