Nova Scotia’s justice minister supports yesterday’s court decision to unveil the names of anonymous online commenters who posted potentially defamatory statements on The Coast’s website.
“We have a free society to express, to articulate our points of view freely. But if they’re done in a malicious manner then you need to be held accountable for that,” Ross Landry said inside the Nova Scotia legislature.
Landry said he has no problem with news websites allowing anonymous commenting.
But he said it should offer no protection from libel.
“My point is when it crosses the line to somebody’s integrity and they’re making allegations against someone, then they should stand up, stand behind their words and identify themselves,” he said.
Premier Darrell Dexter, a lawyer himself, has been the subject of more than a few bashings from anonymous commenters.
He said the decision is an interesting case study and raises questions about how it can be enforced.
He agreed there is a personal responsibility to avoid defamation, but said it would generally apply only to individuals, not governments.
“In fact I would say in political life one of the most widely unread things are probably the comments that come in online,” he said.