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Judge rejects Cooper Creek Cedar’s request for social media data

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has refused to provide a local logging company with an order to find out exactly who is behind the social media accounts of a protest group.

Cooper Creek Cedar wanted Facebook and other companies to provide it with names, contact details, and additional information about accounts associated with Last Stand West Kootenay, which opposed the company’s logging near Argenta.

Nineteen people were arrested last year for breaching an injunction. Although the work proceeded, civil contempt proceedings against them have since been at a standstill.

The company applied to learn who the group’s social media managers were, as it claimed posts on Facebook and other sites were encouraging people to defy the injunction.

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However, Justice Lindsay Lyster ruled it was no great mystery who was behind those posts.

In her ruling, Lyster also found most of the posts “are not evidence of any sort of unlawful activity. It is lawful to engage in peaceful protest, to write letters to politicians about matters of social concern, to sign petitions, to hold potlucks and dances and other events to raise awareness, and to raise money to pay for legal fees, food and tents.

“Those activities are the lifeblood of democratic engagement, not the stuff of tortious interference, or breach of the injunction.”

She found that posts with euphemisms such as “holding space” instead of referring to a blockade might arguably be evidence of unlawful activity or breach of the injunction.

Still, she dismissed the application because the company had other ways of finding the information it wanted without resorting to a third-party order: “It can readily be inferred who the individuals associated with almost all of the individual social media accounts are. Most were arrested by the RCMP on May 17, 2022 for allegedly breaching the injunction.”

Cooper Creek Cedar also sought information about six people it says encouraged others to block the road through their social media accounts. However, Lyster ruled there was no evidence of their accounts encouraging anyone to act unlawfully. She dismissed that application as well.

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