Hardcore Scanner Action group called out for identifying victims

A Facebook page that is posting information overheard on police scanners is revealing too much private information and is pushing the boundaries of free speech, according to critics.

Facebook group in Fredericton accused of posting too much information gleaned from police scanners

Facebook scanner group challenged for identifying victims. 1:53

A Facebook page that is posting information overheard on police scanners is revealing too much private information and is pushing the boundaries of free speech, according to critics.

While scanner and so-called newschaser groups exist in many communities, the invitation-only Hardcore Scanner Action group in Fredericton takes things a step further than most.

People on the page post detailed information from scanner calls, including the names of alleged victims and those being investigated or accused of crimes.

Sheena DeMerchant, a St. Thomas University student, said all 51 students in her social work class want the Hardcore Scanner Action group shut down because it gives out too much personal information about victims. (CBC)
Sheena DeMerchant, a St. Thomas University social work student, said she believes there is too much information being circulated on the site.

"Not everybody wants their business on the internet," said DeMerchant.

"So it is holding people back from asking for help." 

The social work student said when people are reaching out for help, they don't expect the entire community to learn about their problems.

It is holding people back from asking for help.- Sheena DeMerchant, STU social work student

"Next thing you know they're being called out on their personal life," she said.

"Often times it has nothing to do with the incident that was phoned in."

DeMerchant and her social work classmates had a class discussion about the issue and DeMerchant said all 51 students have concerns about how personal details are being shared, especially when it comes to identifying alleged victims and want the page shut down.

"It's making their situation public," she said.

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

The administrator of Hardcore Scanner Action declined a request for interview.

Pushing boundaries

Michael Camp, a STU journalism professor, said he believes posting such information online is taking the right to free speech too far.

Michael Camp, a St. Thomas University journalism professor, said the right to free speech comes with responsibilities on the internet. (CBC)
"We have free speech in Canada and the internet gives us huge opportunities to exercise that right, but we have to remember that it needs to be responsible speech as well," said Camp.

"It can't be a licence to stick it to whoever you want to."

Following the manhunt for RCMP killer Justin Bourque in June 2014, police approached Dave Mantin of The Daily News Network pages on Facebook and asked the administrator to stop posting names and addresses heard on scanners.

"We all decided that it made sense not be giving out the personal information, although it is heard on the scanner," said Mantin.

The RCMP and Fredericton Police say they do not have the power to police scanner and newschaser groups.

Both police forces say the legality of sharing police scanner information is governed by the Radiocommunication Act. Industry Canada has told CBC News it is looking into whether posting scanner information on invitation-only Facebook groups is in contravention of the act.


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