Warman v. Fournier: Online Anonymity in Judicial Processes

The Ontario Divisional Court released a unanimous decision today that will protect the anonymity of online speakers. The court held that before the identity of anonymous online users accused of defamation can be revealed, the plaintiff must convince the court there is an adequate basis for ordering such disclosure. This overturns a lower court's decision that identities must be disclosed automatically.

In its intervention on this matter, CIPPIC argued that strong protections for online identity are required in judicial processes. Online anonymity can be the key to repositories of sensitive information and online expression. Identifying individuals therefore implciates constitutional values such as privacy and freedom of expression, and should only be undertaken with great caution and appropriate safeguards.