Selectmen to confer with counsel over anonymous posters

Cohasset Selectman Chair Carlson said the question continues to be: does the town have standing in the matter? Ultimately, selectmen voted to have town counsel meet with the board to discuss the board’s options.

Selectman Fred Koed says he felt it did rise to that level because sensitive information about union negotiations had been released by anonymous poster Cohasset007 and/or frozenturkeyforall.

Carlson said town counsel was concerned about privacy and first amendment rights. He suggested that the town let the McMorris family pursue the issue. “It could be a quagmire,” he said, noting that IP addresses would have to be obtained for over 4900 computers and that a consultant may have to be hired to investigate the computers.

Vice chairman Diane Kennedy said the board needed to relook at its computer policy.

Koed said the board had to proceed because a leak coming out of town hall could open the board up to unfair labor practices. He said the McMorris family was going forward with its investigation into a poster who libeled their daughters. “We have to figure out how we’re going to move forward.”

Although Koed noted that every computer has its own IP address, Carlson noted that the town’s system was set up so that emails went out through one of three servers that might make it difficult to identify individual computer IPs.

Citizen Agnes McCann said:  “You can either have someone go through the town computers or do nothing, so why not go through town computers? Employ an independent professional.”

Kennedy urged her board to “Make it a priority.” She noted that there were a lot of comments about a whole number of people on the blogs. “I’ve had many phone calls about this. I want to do anything I can to move forward.”

Adrienne MacCarthy said the schools already have a policy. “The information put in these posts could only have come from certain people from within certain departments. That’s a thread,” she said. “This whole civility, thing, it’s not working. When something’s not working, you need to try something else.”

The acting town manager said there were ways to eliminate people from having access to certain sites. “A town computer can be stopped from looking at those papers. But some departments need to look at those papers.”

Koed said he would bring the state’s computer policy to the next meeting and selectmen will investigate how other towns are handling these dituations.

Carlson said the major papers reluctant to get involved in this. “We don’t know if they’ll cooperate. I’d rather wait and see if the McMorris’ come up with more specific information.”

Kennedy: “Where does it end?  How many people going to ask us to investigate the comments?

Original Tinytown Unleashed article

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed