Thursday, July 09, 2009

Open letter to Russ Hiebert about the CHRC, Dean Steacy, and wifi hacking allegations

Dear Mr. Hiebert,

In a recent letter to the National Post you wrote the following.
    Further, uncontradicted expert evidence presented before the hearing demonstrated that investigator Steacy illegitimately used an unsuspecting private citizen's wireless Internet service to post his offensive comments.
This contains several mistakes.

You are referring to the allegation that on Dec. 8, 2006, Dean Steacy logged into Stormfront using the IP

The "expert evidence" to which you refer is that of a Bell technician who testified on March 25, 2008. If you had bothered to read the transcripts of that testimony, you would know that he did not testify that Steacy had used "a private citizen's wireless internet service to post his offensive comments". Rather, he merely identified the Bell customer who had control of the IP on Dec. 8. He said nothing about that person's wireless, nor about any posts made by anyone anywhere. That is all the supposition, speculation, and conspiratorial fantasy accumulated at extremist blogs and discussion sites in the weeks following that hearing.

Nor, in fact, did Steacy post any comments at all on Dec. 8, as you say, much less offensive ones. Steacy's pseudonym, jadewarr, has only ever made one comment at Stormfront, on Sept. 15, 2006. (It's not offensive, by the way.) Steacey posted nothing on Dec. 8; he merely logged in on that date.

So you can see, although you are correct to say that the "expert evidence" of the Bell technician is uncontradicted, the allegation of wifi-hacking has been investigated by the privacy commissioner and dismissed as likely the result of "a mismatch on the part of a third party".

So in a single sentence above you have made at least three factual errors: the expert testimony said nothing about anyone's wireless; Steacy did not post any comments on the day in question; and the whole allegation has been contradicted by the privacy commissioner.

Everyone, of course, makes mistakes. You, however, are offering this error-filled sentence -- and these are not your only errors -- to rebut claims that you had been misinformed. Did you actually read any of this material?

All of this, however, raises an even more problematic aspect of your recent performance. You chair the Parliamentary Subcommittee for International Human Rights (SIHR), which is a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE). As Chair you have held hearings on Canadian Human Rights Commission. Why is it that your committee is delving into the CHRC at all? To compare how Human Rights is handled in Canada as opposed to other states? Or was the point to provide a platform whereby defamatory allegations could be made in privileged circumstances?




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