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Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

The beginning of change

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 @ 01:03 PM

Global 16 by 9

The Internet is the new Wild West and at end of February Global TV’s award winning public affairs show 16 by 9, hosted by veteran TV correspondent Carolyn Jarvis aired an episode specifically about the scams perpetrated on the internet and as a result, the victimization of innocent individuals including Eric Cunningham, former MPP and businessman.

The show focused on the tactics of former police officer and purported hired “private investigator” Cullen Johnson, who with his also disgraced girlfriend Elaine White an unlicensed private investigator, sought systematically to destroy the character of people like Eric Cunningham by falsely suggesting (during his divorce proceedings with his first wife) that he was a part owner of a multi-million dollar company whose blue-chip Board (which included – also falsely- John N. Turner, Mike Harris and David Peterson among others) was in the business, again falsely, of funneling millions of dollars out of Canada. None of the allegations were/are, in fact, true yet the fact that allegations were written and posted on the internet had the effect, at the time, of creating doubt in public (and among those in the legal system) about his integrity and his reputation. The net result was that the falsehoods created animus all around. Thankfully for Eric Cunningham he is a cool customer and because he has integrity dripping from his pores, he used his own network of supporters and the legal system to go after the perpetrators.

As for the stories by Johnson and White – they didn’t stop at Cunningham! Johnson and White created a web of fantastic and false stories on the Internet hurting so many people along the way that they eventually fled the country when they were charged criminally. They fled Canada to the Caribbean when they were out on bail. The two are now imprisoned in the Caribbean for a fraud they alleged to have perpetrated there and are presently awaiting deportation to Canada. When they return to Canada, they will likely be met on arrival by authorities that will, yet again, charge them with several more counts of fraud and they both may face prison sentences here.

This Global TV story is seemingly meant to teach a lesson. It more attempts to highlight the issue of the lack of control on the internet and how the power of words can and do have an affect on any individual’s personal space and an audience the information strives to impact. When people see information on the web, experts say that there is a tendency to actually believe it because it’s written. Couple that with the fact that the “posts” on the web may have a name or a “by-line” attached to it– when, in fact, the real author could be hiding behind an alias from a internet service provider (ISP) in another part of the world, or at a local Starbucks in their home community where the perpetrator of the “post” hides behind Starbuck’s host internet site. As a victim myself of a deliberate attempt to discredit my reputation by “phantoms” claiming to be foreign business people, former colleagues, “private investigators” and other aliases, alleging falsehoods of a libelous and slanderous nature (all of which would be subject to criminal mischief and civil remedies IF a real person alleged same using their true identity on the internet) I believe that change for these kinds of nefarious activities is needed in Canada. I’m fortunate that I have many friends who are helping to “out” these internet predators and that will help more Canadians realize that much of the information on the internet is not as accurate as they would believe. It used to be that we gleaned our information in the “media” through qualified and accurate sources like a newspaper or encyclopedia. Today, anyone can post information on the Internet whether it is accurate or not and hide behind antiquated “broadcast laws” in Canada

Enforcement authorities working with us to identify the “phantoms” posting slanderous and libelous information on the internet using phony names, information and aliases, believe that until and unless Canada as a nation wakes up to the fact that there need to be stiffer laws to protect the public from internet phantoms and predators who use aliases and phony websites, addresses and identities and who maliciously attack and create mayhem for innocent Canadians such as the likes of Johnson and White will continue with impunity. Change has to start now and we have begun the process.

In Canada, like some states in the United States, there needs to be awareness that the Internet is NOT an accurate media to the degree people might believe. That information on “search engines” may not be reliable and the authors, in fact, may not be a real person OR, if they are they may post information that can actually hurt an individual and cause great harm to them (even in some publicized cases cause the victim to end their life). In some southern US states there is pending legislation to amend the criminal code so that law enforcement agencies will charge criminally those who create aliases on the Internet. The intent is to ensure that the address, the name, the posts and the site being used belong to a real person with a real name and real address thereby protecting an individual from cyber-attack from phantoms or phony people. In the United States there seems to be greater protection for reputations of an individual and civil remedies reflect that in past case law – the criminal system is now hoping to catch up.

The days of the internet being the wild west may soon be coming to an end in the US and more and more victims of the kind of malicious and outrageous acts of crime like Eric Cunningham will be vindicated while the spineless internet hacks like the Johnsons and the Whites and others who knowingly perpetrate slander, libel and criminal mischief may find themselves pay heaps of damages in civil courts or wallow in jail – where they belong.

- Marc Kealey
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