Suspicions that City Hall staff are spying on bloggers who criticize City managers were supported by statements made at a Carnegie Center Board meeting on Thursday evening in Vancouver.

One such statement was made by Margaret Prevost, Carnegie Center Association President, when announcing that the issue of Carnegie staff being criticized on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog had been referred to “the City” months earlier. Speaking in a slow, measured fashion, as if she were choosing her words carefully, Prevost said:

“They have resources that we don’t have in order to get information from websites.”

What information was City staff able to get from websites that could not simply be read from the computer screens at Carnegie? That was the question being asked by contributors to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

The employment of “resources” at City Hall against bloggers criticizing City management staff was not a fleeting exercise. This has been “a six or seven month process”, said Gena Thompson, Vice President of the Carnegie Center Association, at Thursday’s meeting. “It started in the winter,” Thompson told the audience who had come to the Carnegie theater in the sweltering July heat. But when Thompson narrowed down the approximate month in which the City had taken over the blog case, it became apparent that this campaign against the Downtown Eastside Enquirer bloggers had been underway for longer than 6 or 7 months. Thompson said records would have to be checked for confirmation, but to the best of her recollection, the meeting in which the blog case was referred to the City had occurred last October or November.

The time frame laid out by Thompson raised eyebrows amongst contributors to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. It was just after the City reportedly took over the case that unwitting bloggers had begun to notice that when passwords were typed into public-access computers operated by the City of Vancouver (through the Vancouver Public Library), they seemed to be getting stolen. The DTES Enquirer blog was repeatedly hacked into, as was an account at the news site used by a blogger to post links to the DTES Enquirer — until a policy was enacted that passwords would no longer be typed into City of Vancouver computers.

To read the rest of this original article, go to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer

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