N.S. court rejects Facebook publication ban
Nova Scotia's highest court says the media should be allowed to report the name of a teenage girl who was allegedly defamed on a phony Facebook page.
However, in its judgment on Friday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal maintained a publication ban on the girl's name and the alleged offending comments for another 60 days.
The appeal court or the Supreme Court of Canada could direct that the ban be longer.
The family's lawyers argued allowing media to identify the 15-year-old girl — who is trying to find out who's behind the postings — would only cause further harm.
Lawyers for the Halifax Chronicle Herald and Global TV argued against the ban, with the newspaper's lawyer saying it is generally accepted that people give up some privacy during court proceedings, and the fact that the girl is a minor isn't enough to guarantee anonymity.
In May, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge approved a court order requiring a Halifax-based Internet provider to reveal the identity of the customer who posted the comments.
However, Justice Arthur LeBlanc denied a request to ban the media from reporting the girl's name and any details from the now defunct page.
The girl first learned of the fake profile page a year ago when a friend sent her a copy of it.
In the appeal court's written judgment, Justice Jamie Saunders said the family initiated legal proceedings and chose "to participate in a public forum where the trial may be attended by an interested public, and reported on by a free and independent press."
He said members of the public or news reports on a defamation trial would associate the girl's name with what was written in the fake profile, but not in the way the person who created the page intended because the girl would be seeking redress for alleged lies.
"Should she be successful, one might expect that she will be lauded for her courage in defending her good name and rooting out on-line bullies who lurk in the bushes, behind a nameless IP address," Saunders wrote.
"The public will be much better informed as to what words constitute defamation, and alerted to the consequences of sharing information through social networking among 'friends' on a 21st century bulletin board with a proven global reach."