With slogans such as "Who's a Rat?" and "Snitches Get Stitches," Internet Web sites dedicated to exposing police informants and undercover police officers are stoking worries over the safety of police and their so-called rats.
The largest of the sites, Whosarat.com, lists 63 purported informants in Canada, at least some of whom are genuine co-operating witnesses. Some of the entries include photographs, addresses and phone numbers.
It also lists half a dozen police officers in Canada and one journalist, Stevie Cameron, who was embroiled in a controversy over her relationship with the RCMP during her investigation of corruption allegations.
Whosarat.com bills itself as "the largest online database of informants and agents."
The site sells "Stop Snitching" T-shirts to help fund its operation. The shirts also feature a skull and crossed bones and a slogan: "Anything you say can and will be used against you."
The threatening imagery and language is a theme on most of the anti-rat sites.
Another, dedicated to exposing informants in Belleville, Ont., and its surrounding area, is a Web forum that amounts to little more than the name of purported informants accompanied by plenty of foul insults.
Its slogan is "Snitches Get Stitches," which is accompanied by a picture of a chalk outline of a person, suggesting a nasty end for those caught co-operating.
Another Canadian site, rcmpsnitches.blogspot.com, avoids the macho posturing and highlights informants used in some recent wrongful conviction cases.
The sites are a worrying trend for undercover police officers and informants who already go to great lengths to protect their identity. One repeat police informant said public exposure is a risk he always runs in his "line of work."
"There are always bitter guys out there trying to make life miserable for people like me," he said in an interview, speaking on condition he not be named.
"Do I like it? No I don't. Am I surprised by it? No I am not."
Sergeant Blake Easto, with the Hamilton Police Service, is denounced on Whosarat.com for his undercover drug work. He once dressed in Goth garb for a Marilyn Manson concert to support officers laying drug charges against concert goers.
"I have some concern about it," Sgt. Easto said, but because the personal information listed on him is quite scant, he feels no immediate threat.
The possibility of an officer or an informant being put in danger by the sites is upsetting to police.
"This is definitely disturbing. It is totally unacceptable," said Andre Girard, with the Quebec Mounted Police Professional Association, which represents RCMP officers in the province.
He said the safety of officers and the protection of members of the public who assist police is not something to be taken lightly.
"If there is any accuracy whatsoever to the information then it merits a deep investigation," he said. "Police rely on members of the public to come forward and help them to do their job as best they can. Dealing with people who help police is very sacred."
Bruce Miller, administrative officer with the Police Association of Ontario, said he is speaking with government officials about regulatory change to better protect police officers.
"In the electronic age, things have changed and people can access information online so easily," said Mr. Miller.
"We have had problems with people trying to intimidate police officers, driving through police parking lots and taking down licence plates and things of that nature. We will certainly have a look at these sites."
Anthony Capone, the registered owner of Whosarat.com, says the webmaster "learned first-hand how authorities will use lying scum" in prosecutions.
"It was created to level the playing field for defendants so they could use it to gather info to discredit the informants that accused them of a crime or agents that arrested them," he said in an e-mail exchange.
He dismissed charges he is putting lives in danger.
"I think it's pretty safe to say that informants and law enforcement officers know that there is danger involved in that line of work," he wrote. "If they don't like it they should consider another career choice."
The listing in WhosARat.com for Ms Cameron, a veteran investigative reporter and author, contains little personal information. As purported evidence of her cooperation, the site reproduces two newspaper stories.
On her own Web site, Ms Cameron says she was wrongly considered an informant by an RCMP officer during the force's probe of corruption allegations that she was independently investigating for a book.
"In 1999, without telling me or my lawyer, an RCMP officer gave me confidential informant status, a fact that was published as an allegation in a newspaper," she wrote. "I rejected the status and the RCMP officer in charge of the case did indeed attack me in court," she wrote.
In 2004, Ms Cameron filed a complaint with the RCMP's Commission for Public Complaints.
She could not be reached this week for comment.