Protest not effective

The vikileaks protest relies on public, rather than private information  

Details of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews‘ divorce were made public yesterday on Twitter. Using the account @vikileaks30, an individual or group posted details of his messy divorce battle.

Presumably, the move was a response to Toews’ proposed bill – the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act – which would require Internet providers to give police information about their clients. But, in the long-run, the protest will probably prove ineffective.

To be frank, it’s a bit of a strange protest. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with intrusive legislation, but the details of Toew’s divorce aren’t sealed. Divorce documents are public, so anybody with a bit of time on his or her hands can walk into the law courts and dig these documents up. Frankly, it would’ve been a far more effective protest had this anonymous individual or group dug something up which is truly private.

As Margo Goodhand said in a recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press, mainstream media knew about the details of his messy divorce, but decided not to run anything in the paper regarding it. “We made a decision several years ago, after careful review, not to publish the details on the grounds that Toews’ personal relationships appeared to have no bearing on his ability to do his job,” she said.

In other words, this isn’t the first time people have seen the court records, but it’s the first time somebody has decided to post them for the world to see. All it took was somebody with a motive (political or otherwise), and a complete lack of any kind of journalistic integrity (and let’s face it, there is no such thing as journalistic integrity in the mostly anonymous online world) to post these details.

So, how effective is this protest? Let’s review:

Is the publication of his divorce records a breach of his privacy? Yes, kind of, but not really.

Is it embarrassing? Absolutely.

Is it going to dissuade Toews from pursuing this kind of legislation? Most likely not.

And I think that’s the ultimate effect of this anonymous protest: it’s embarrassing, but not that effective in the long-term. Though it was the individual or group’s intention to show how detrimental the new legislation would be, the effort ultimately falls flat precisely because the “private” information it displayed is quite public.

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About David Driedger

I'm a Creative Communications student at Red River College majoring in public relations. I have a BA with a double major in political studies and history from the University of Manitoba. I'm also the news editor for The Projector.
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