American site leaks Jean Brault testimony

According to the Toronto Sun, an American website breached the publication ban set forth by the Gomery commission (follow the wikipedia link if you don’t know what this is about).

AN AMERICAN website has breached the publication ban protecting a Montreal ad exec’s explosive and damning testimony at the AdScam inquiry. The U.S. blogger raised the ire of the Gomery commission this weekend by publishing extracts from testimony given in secret by Jean Brault last Thursday.

It took me about 60 seconds to find and read the blog in question. I’m not going to help you in any way, except to tell you that it is on the Web out there, and what is on the Web can be found easily, most of the time.

Do publication bans even make sense in the Web era?

In this particular case, having this leak can prove very useful: what if the commission doesn’t lift the ban quickly? What’s the point of a censored public inquiry? I think that the most immediate consequence here is that you can’t keep the information from the public so easily. This is a good thing. Information is freedom.

However, it would have been better for the authors of the leak to keep quiet a few weeks… maybe even a month or so. Individuals have a right to privacy and a fair trial. This is why we had a ban so these people could go to trial without being already guilty by association.

However, the judge should have made the inquiry private at this point. In the information age, you can’t have a secret public inquiry. The judge assumed that only the media can spread information quickly. He is outdated: the blogosphere has far more bandwidth. And you can’t enforce a ban on the blogosphere. You just can’t.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the Université du Québec (TELUQ).

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