Flame wars: defamation or assault?

(via Denis Magnusson) A Canadian court has issued an injunction against a stamp-dealer who posted threatening materials on the internet against Richard Warman, a human rights campaigner. The systematic hate campaign by one William Grosvenor included death threats, false accusations of sex with minors, photos of the victim’s home address, Google Maps information on how to get to his domicile, and a range of other abusive offences. When granting the injunction, the judge equated them with assault:

“They are threatening and intimidating and, by virtue of their repetitiveness, their detail regarding the plaintiff’s whereabouts and their level of malevolence, they are more than empty threats and insults. They are vicious and serious and are to be taken seriously.”

Besides an injunction ordering to take down the abusive content, the judge ordered Mr Grosvenor to pay $50,000 CAD.

Interesting case from many perspectives, but I found the equating of constant defamatory and threatening material with assault a novel way of dealing with cyber-offences. As we conduct more of our lives online, it seems logical that an attack on our real and virtual persona will equate an assault under law.

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