POLITICS

Dean Del Mastro: Anonymous Comments On Internet Should Be Addressed By Parliament (VIDEO)

10/26/2012 02:43 EDT | Updated 10/26/2012 08:37 EDT

Dean Del Mastro got the Internet all riled up Friday, after targeting one of the Web's most sacred cows — anonymous comments.

Prior to question period, the Tory MP used his member's statement to suggest Parliament should act to regulate anonymous commentary online.

"Yesterday I read the comments of hundreds of anonymous posters online and was frankly shocked and saddened by the level of vitriolic hatred and personal attacks that were freely posted," Del Mastro said. "While I believe firmly that the right to free speech must be strongly defended and protected, I also believe it should be backed up by the common decency to stand by one's words as opposed to hiding behind online anonymity."

Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, continued: "Anonymous online attacks are, in my view, cowardly but they are no less hurtful and represent a caustic scourge that is harming too many in our society. I am deeply concerned by what I have witnessed online and saddened by the impact it is having on the lives of too many Canadians. I believe that this is an issue this place must consider.

On Thursday afternoon, Del Mastro posted similar sentiments on Facebook, but seemed to link them to recent attention for online bullying following the suicide of Amanda Todd.

"One of the best ways to end on-line and electronic bullying, libel and slander would be to force people posting hurtful comments to properly identify themselves," Del Mastro wrote. "This morning I read comments on a news story posted on an electronic news publication, many of them could only be described as hateful rants. The common denominator is that none of them identified the person that wrote them; this strikes me as something that parliament should address."

The Internet was quick to respond to Del Mastro's call for action. Users on the Facebook thread and on Twitter were almost universal not only in their condemnation for the idea of regulating comments, but also in their mockery of Del Mastro's apparent noobishness when it comes to the Web. You can read some of the funniest tweets below.

Internet PWNS Del Mastro

Del Mastro's call for new Web regulations comes on the same day the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police renewed their calls for the government to pass its e-snooping legislation, Bill C-30.

The controversial legislation was shelved earlier this year after Public Safety Minister Vic Toews aroused the ire of the Internet by suggesting those opposed to the bill were in sympathy with child pornographers.

Toews comments, as well as his admission that he had not even read the bill, led to the viral hashtag #TellVicEverything and to the Vikileaks scandal that culminated in the resignation of Liberal staffer Adam Carroll (who has since been re-hired).

#TellVicEverything was back on Twitter Friday, along with #DelMastrovInternet.

Del Mastro has kept a low-profile of late amid a scandal involving allegations his campaign exceeded the spending limit during the 2011 election and tried to cover it up.

Now it appears Del Mastro, who is renowned for his vitriolic attacks in the Commons, is back in action. As columnist Stephen Lautens pointed out on Twitter: "Dean Del Mastro, long-suffering champion of civility..."

Correction: A previous version of the article said Del Mastro made him comments during question period. He actually made them prior to question period during member statements.

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