Social media a ‘double-edged sword’ in Site C camp injunction
BC Hydro has been monitoring social media to identify people at a Site C protest camp, a B.C. Supreme Court affidavit shows.
The affidavit, filed by BC Hydro lawyer Patrick Hayes, is a key piece evidence in an upcoming injunction to have the camp removed.
It contains screenshots of Facebook and Instagram pages, blog entries, and other social media posts identifying people living at the Rocky Mountain Fort camp, which is blocking dam construction on the south bank of the Peace River.
While social media has helped Site C opponents organize and raise funds for legal cases, the affidavit “definitely (shows) that social media is a double-edged sword,” said Helen Knott, a 28-year-old social worker from Fort St. John who is a defendant in the case.
“It’s different when you suspect something like that monitoring happens, and when you know and you see the extent to which you’re being monitored.”
The testimony seeks to prove that the defendants trespassed or interfered with construction work. Social media posts, blogs, a crowdfunding campaign site and transcripts of videos taken at the camp make up the bulk of the 129-page filing.
The affidavit also includes copies of news articles, at least one of which Hayes writes was “transmitted to me by BC Hydro Project Communications staff.”
The defence argues the entire affidavit should be struck or disregarded by the judge.
Hayes “does not offer any direct evidence on the material issue whether actions constituting trespass or interference have occurred” at the camp, defence counsel Jason Gratl argues in a response. “All of his evidence on this issue is hearsay.”
He adds that it is unclear whether Hayes or someone else gathered the information.
“(Hayes) remains silent, in his affidavit, on which person or persons located, obtained and collected the vast majority of exhibits to his affidavit.”
Knott said that while she understands her social media posts about the camp are public, she was still surprised to hear they were in court documents.
“Then you wonder in what other ways could you possibly be monitored? Quite honestly, I don’t think I have anything to hide because I don’t believe I’m in the wrong.”
The case will open in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Feb. 22, and is expected to run for three days.
If BC Hydro is successful, the protesters could be ordered to clear the camp or face arrest.