Woman demands changes to scanner Facebook group

A Fredericton woman, whose name and address were posted to a Facebook group called Hardcore Scanner Action, says something needs to be done about the page.

Hardcore Scanner Action posts names and addresses from police radio calls, allows members to comment

Fredericton woman Kodi Burtt says she was ridiculed on the Hardcore Scanner Action page (CBC)

A Fredericton woman, whose name and address were posted to a Facebook group called Hardcore Scanner Action, says something needs to be done about the page.

The invitation-only Hardcore Scanner Action group allows members to post detailed information from scanner calls, including the names of alleged victims and those being investigated or accused of crimes.

On February 9, Kodi Burtt, 23 and her boyfriend Nick Stark, 25 got into a verbal argument. Burtt says someone called police, and that officers asked Stark to leave the house for a few hours. No charges were laid.
Kodi Burtt says this post to the Hardcore Scanner Action Facebook page led to a barrage of personal insults. (Facebook)

Unknown to Burtt, her name and Stark's, and their address were posted to the Hardcore Scanner Action Facebook page. The post was added by the page administrator, who has a username of Gary Robichaud.

"I had been told by a friend that my name had got brought up and that everybody was bashing me," said Burtt.

"I had over 13 to 20 people people bashing me and bashing me over some incident where they had no idea what happened."

Dozens of comments followed beneath the posts, including some comments from Burtt and Stark themselves.

Burtt says some comments ridiculed her appearance. The 23-year-old says she has a lupus-like illness, called mixed connective tissue disease. It has left her without four of her fingertips.

"I should be able to call police and feel okay to call them, not worry about it getting onto a site like this and getting bashed by different people."

Burtt reported Robichaud's post to Facebook. She says she wants the page taken down, or its rules for users to change.

Facebook told CBC News it has not received any reports about the page itself. The company says it does not allow posts that include names and addresses of individuals.

Facebook's community standards page says the site removes "content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them."

Victim-blaming concern

Earlier this week, St. Thomas University social work student Sheena DeMerchant told CBC News that members of her class were concerned about the effect of posting names and addresses online, particularly for alleged victims.

"It's making their situation public," said DeMerchant. "If they don't already have enough to deal with, then let's have the whole community know about their business."

Since CBC News first aired a story about the site on Tuesday, the administrator, Gary Robichaud has asked the more than 1300 members to end the personal attacks.
A post from Hardcore Scanner Action group earlier this month, including a link, apparently to the Facebook profile of the person mentioned in the post. (Facebook)

Last week, Robichaud posted that a young man at an at-risk youth facility had trouble breathing.

Beneath it, he added a link to what appeared to be the man's Facebook profile.

Robichaud has declined a CBC request for an interview.

Legal and safety issues

Canada's Radiocommunication Act states that "no person shall intercept and make use of, or intercept and divulge, any radiocommunication, except as permitted by the originator or intended recipient of the communication or the person intended by the originator of the communication to receive it."

In the case of an individual, a conviction can lead a fine of up to $25,000, and/or up to a year in jail.

Industry Canada told CBC News, the rules apply even when the information is shared is in an invitation-only group.

Viewing posts in Hardcore Scanner Action requires Facebook users to be invited to the group by an existing member.

According to the RCMP, Industry Canada passes on cases to the relevant police force, should criminal activity be suspected.

The MacNeil Report into the shooting deaths of three RCMP officers in Moncton in 2014 identified a need for encrypted police communication the province.

The report said more secure communication would lead to better "operational effectiveness, officer safety and protection of privacy."

A more-secure communication system for all New Brunswick forces is now being built and could be in place by the end of this year.

New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Sarah Bustard told CBC News that the new mobile radio communications system will have encryption available.

"Not all users of the new system will require encryption services and it will be up to the individual users to decide whether or not they use this service," said Bustard.

"It's important to note that the new system is digital, which is not as easily monitored as our current system."

​The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada told CBC News that its Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada's federal private sector privacy law, does not cover issues between individuals, but only to "the collection, use or disclosure of personal information in the course of a commercial activity."

Spokesperson Tobi Cohen said the issue "certainly speaks to the growing concern over online reputation and privacy which is one of four key priorities our Office recently identified during a priority-setting exercise."

"The consequences of oversharing, sharing inaccurate information or information out of context can have a detrimental impact on reputation. That's why, over the next five years, we've committed to delving deeper into the issue of reputation and privacy," said Cohen.