Saturday, January 05, 2008

Is Facebook Interfering With Criminal Investigations?

Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported how the popular social networking site Facebook is making publication bans in criminal cases harder to enforce.

A 14 year-old Toronto girl was stabbed to death on New Year's Day by 2 juveniles. Normally, under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, the 2 underage murder suspects and the victim should not be identified.

But the pictures and names of all 3 were posted on Facebook. The local police released the name of the victim, Stefanie Rengel, this week with the consent of her parents.

Toronto police say Facebook "highlights the futility of imposing publication bans".
"Mark Pugash, spokesman for the Toronto Police Service, says the Rengel case is a perfect example of how Facebook can often interfere with the rule of law (...)"

"Martha McKinnon, executive director of Justice for Children and Youth, says the answer is education. She says many Facebook users are teens and may not even know they are breaking the law."

" 'Neither the federal nor provincial government have invested any resources into educating the public about why we have these confidence provisions [in the Youth Criminal Justice Act]; what they are for ... so that people will actually know what the law is,' she said."

"Legal observers say the case shows the law's inability to keep up with those who wish to express themselves on the internet."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:53 pm

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