Nova Scotia

Man accused in privacy breach gets support from lawyer, tech community

While an online fundraiser picks up steam, privacy lawyer David Fraser says he will assist with legal defence of the 19-year-old accused in the Nova Scotia freedom-of-information scandal.

Privacy lawyer David Fraser will assist with teen's legal defence

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer in Halifax, says he will help with the 19-year-old's legal defence. (CBC)

While an online legal defence fundraiser gains steam, the 19-year-old accused in the Nova Scotia freedom-of-information scandal has secured legal help from one of Canada's leading experts in privacy law.

David Fraser of the firm McInnes Cooper in Halifax has confirmed he'll assist with the teenager's legal defence.

He says he's "optimistic" the case can be resolved once it's in the hands of the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service.

"The prosecution service will look at it with a fresh set of eyes, and they have to ask themselves: 'Is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction? And is it in the public interest?'" he said.

"I would hope that the charges are going to be withdrawn before they do any more damage to this young man's life," he said.

Infosec industry supportive

Fraser has already been in touch with an IT security expert and security conference organizer, Dragos Ruiu, who has started a GoFundMe page for the teenager's legal defence.

"It looks like a lot of tech folks who could easily see themselves in the shoes of this young man being persecuted instead of him, and it resonates with them," said Ruiu.

Aaron Swartz was a coder and internet activist who was charged in Boston in 2011 for mass unauthorized downloading of academic journal articles from MIT. (Noah Berger/Reuters)

Both Fraser and Ruiu drew comparisons to the case of Aaron Swartz, a pioneering coder and internet activist who was charged in Boston in 2011 for mass unauthorized downloading of academic journal articles from MIT.

Swartz took his own life in 2013.

Ruiu says at the time he wished he'd done more to support Swartz, which is why he's taking action now.

"We can't let a politician bully a young man like this," he said.

'Future is pretty bright for this young man'

"I think it requires some of the older and more senior people in the infosec area to really stand beside this man and shepherd him and give him a little bit of guidance and support and not let him be railroaded by wrongful prosecution," Ruiu said.

Ruiu said his 15-year-old son is starting to tinker with coding, and that brought the Nova Scotia case even closer to home.

As of Wednesday night, Ruiu says the GoFundMe has raised about $4,300, mostly small anonymous donations.

The Atlantic Security Conference in Halifax donated $1,000. 

"If you look at the folks who are widely respected and held up as rock stars or very bright minds in the information security area, the vast majority of them all share stories very similar to this young man's story," Ruiu said.

"The good news is the future is pretty bright for this young man. If he follows the usual pattern, he'll probably go on to have a spectacular career," he said.

Police won't comment on teen's account

Halifax Regional Police say they continue to investigate the case.

They won't comment on the accused teen's account of a 15-officer raid on his family home last week.

Supt. Jim Perrin said police continue to investigate the case. (CBC)

"The police aren't going to get into a public dispute with what a suspect in an incident has to say," said Supt. Jim Perrin of the Halifax Regional Police.

"Obviously there has been a lot of opinion on social media and from other news sources. Like I said last week, we received a complaint, we investigated it, we executed a search warrant at a residence in peninsular Halifax." 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story wrongly said a $1,000 donation came from Atlanta. In fact it came from the Atlantic Security Conference in Halifax.
    Apr 19, 2018 1:45 PM AT

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