Is Banning Internet Usage For Sex Offenders Reasonable Or Practical?

from the no-internet-for-you! dept

Over the years, there’s been plenty of talk about banning internet usage for criminals who used the internet in the commission of a crime. This has always seemed both excessive and totally impractical as the internet became a bigger and bigger part of our every day lives. Would it mean you couldn’t use a VoIP phone service, for example? Would it mean you couldn’t book an airplane flight if the only way to book was online? Luckily, courts have been tossing out these lifetime internet bans as unconstitutional. However, New Jersey has now instituted a new law that would ban some sex offenders from using the web. It does seem much more limited than a complete ban. First, it only applies to those sex offenders who used the web to prey on their victims — and it does appear to allow some exceptions, such as if you need to use the internet for work. However, given how much the internet has become a part of people’s lives these days, it still seems a bit extreme to ban all other uses outside of work. As more entertainment options move online, will this law mean you can’t download (legally) movies and music? I certainly have little sympathy for those who used the internet to prey on victims, but it still seems a bit excessive to pass laws that involve such widespread blanket bans on internet usage. If they’re allowed in this case, they may start to be allowed for other cases involving crimes where the internet was used as a tool. It’s always easy for politicians to pass laws “to protect the children” against sex offenders — because no one wants to vote against such a thing. However, when those laws potentially could lead to excessive punishments for both those offenders and eventually to others, they should be carefully scrutinized.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Is Banning Internet Usage For Sex Offenders Reasonable Or Practical?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Paul` says:


Please! Think of the children!

Really though, how practical can it be anyway? Are they going to circulate a list of all people that are on the ban list to all places that offer public internet access?

Wouldn’t it be easier if we all required an RFID chip in a card or passport to scan to use a computer, that way we can monitor what those naughty porn watchers do too!

In seriousness though, it’s impractical and and while sex offenders shouldn’t be sympathized with it would be an invasion of rights to ban someone from something like the internet with the way we are beginning to rely on it.

cameron says:

Re: Someone!

I am a registered sex offender in the State of Nevada and just for the record, I was convicted in Washington State 22 years ago. My question is this. In my case it was her word against mine that it wasn’t consentuial, and because I admitted having sex with this 19 year old (me 20) at the time, I was convicted. I ask this question. When does the time meet the crime for punishment? I have been incarceratted for a year and a day for not registuring my new address once I became homeless after leaving a violent relationship with my ex girlfriend who is now in prison for killing her 17 live in boyfriend at the time (3 years after I left her). I was homeless for 3 days, and I didn’t know how to go about getting a homeless address at the time. Ignorance is bliss! Anyway, I have since then (many years later) got married, started a tire business and now, I am on the web as some monster and I might loose my tire business because of some peoples fear! Why is there so much concern and willingness put so much emphises on one perticular crime? Why not put everyone up on the internet who say, commit adultry, steal a car? or how about are cruel to pets? When and where do we draw the line? I am trying to put my past behind me, but it would seem that I am unable to get that RIGHT.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, it’s entirely reasonable. After all, you can’t expect children to be bread with any level of intelligence nor for parents to be bothered parenting their children.

In addition, convicted sex offenders (regardless of conviction and even if they were only guilty of being 17 and having oral sex with their 15 year old girlfriend) must be legally forbidden from buying candy as that can be used to entice a child. And they should be forbidden from driving vehicles as that can be used to abduct and transport a child. And they must not be allowed to own pets to help prevent the “have you seen my little doggy?” ploy.

Along these lines, we must consider forbidding sex offenders from having videogame consoles (the old “hey, want to come check out this new game I have?” or ice cream. Also, everyone buying duct tape must be registered at the place of purchase with photographic identification, a signature and fingerprinting, to protect children from being bound with it.

PS: All of this should apply to all priests and most especially the priests that are shuffled around from church to church rather than being prosecuted by the law. You know, the same priests that are so unable to resist molesting little boys that the catholic church has now actually put out a “protect your ass from the priest” coloring book for children.

Mik (user link) says:

But how would that work?

Besides the fact that such “blanket” bans may not be appropriate, how would you possibly go about putting these in place? Other than getting people watched 24/7, it is simply not possible to do. You can’t know who is on-line, just that there is a connection.

If someone really wants to get on-line, there are so many ways to do it without being known.

KC says:


No access to the internet? That’s not only impossible to police, but also almost impossible to live without the internet. Anyone can get onto the net via a cellphone, ebook reader, gaming console, etc. At work, you need to communicate via email, or keep track of 401k investments, online banking, online shopping, etc. Just how are they going to monitor “the thousands of sex offenders”? Sure, that’s “putting my tax money to good use”. I’d rather have those repeat offenders to be castrated.

PaulT (profile) says:

It’s a reasonable suggestion (in concept) for those people who have committed their crimes using the web. Unfortunately, it isn’t practical, especially as computer equipment become more portable and advanced. In implementation, this would just be another law that penalises criminal trying to reform while giving a false sense of security regarding those who wish to re-offend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Try Gooling.

One of the best places in the US for Sex Offenders is

Pinellas FL

And that is the best

Other locations one can not live with in 1000 yards of a school, liabrary playground et. which means that in most US states about the only place they can live is 20 miles from noware out in the woods.

They must also live in the country from which they were convicted.

So where can they live in any country with a major city? Only under bridges.

Todd says:

Of course they should be aloud to use the internet because it should be monitored by the prison they should be in anyways. It makes me sick that they walk among us serving hardly anytime at all but if you happen to get busted selling or doing drugs then you will have to serve a full term. Most prisoners are people who are in there for NON-violent crimes. If we were to let the non-violent criminals serve reduced sentences we probably wouldn’t have the “over-crowding” problem we have in our prisons in the US. Then we could actually keep the murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. off of our streets. On that stupid dateline show they are constantly having repeat offenders on there. Why AREN’T they locked up forever!!!???

Rod Burch says:

Sex Offenders

I suggest that all sexual offenders be drug out, shot in the head, and that their families be charged for the bullet and the disposal of the remains.
Harsh, I know, but these monsters destroy lives of innocent, unsuspecting people.
Since we are Americans, I believe that there should be a trial and due process, but the penalty if convicted should be swift. These people do not get better. This method would eliminate trying to keep them away from the internet, schools, and public bathrooms.

dave says:

predators made the decision to abuse a the internet to commit a crime, If you get caught with a kilo of coke in your car, the police seize your vehicle – and sell it… offenders using the internet to prey on victims NEED to lose it FOREVER!!!!!
{ If YOU disagree…. put your child/teen/family member in the chat rooms, and you WILL change your mind}

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is a major problem with what you suggest.

The people you are not sex offenders.

A sex offender is a person who has been convicted in a court of law of a sex crime. These people have not been convicted of a sex crime because if they had been convicted they would be living under a bridge with out internet access.

DAN says:

Public Sex Offender List

Use of the death penalty (under any circumstances) implies that juries and the legal system are completely error free. They are not. These crimes, whether convicted or not, are devastating to family, friends, and others.

And, while the sex offenders cited here are of a specific predatory nature,

**you need to note that, for you, to become a registered sex offender, having your name broadcast without any indication of your actual crime, and having your movements tracked the rest of your life— is just one drunken and observed/reported “peeing in public” urination away. Be careful what you wish for…

Rob C says:

Sex Offenders

Why are we talking about defending the rights of these monsters. Take everything away, they do not deserve anything. As far as I am concerned, they do not deserve to live. And as Dan pointed out, the system is not perfect, but I am willing to take that chance. The damage these monsters do to children is life long. 1 or 2 years in jail and your name on a list hardly matches the lifetime of mental anguish their victims endure.
And for the record, I would gladly pay for the bullets when we start dragging them out into the streets.
Perhaps we should being back public hangings.

Anonymous Coward says:

So many words, so little information. Guess its good for eyeballs though.

Not all sex offenders would be subject to this, so 18 year old junior getting a bj from his 17 year old gf probably wouldn’t be subject to this. Also, it would be for criminals that use the internet to prey on kids.

Also, the enforcement would come in the form of polygraph tests administered to the sex offenders.

If you want to cover the story, cover it, but don’t leave out basic information that is critical to the discussion, unless you don’t care about the story and just care about eyeballs.

Border says:

Double sided

Yeah, that is a double-edged sword right there. It brings up a great point. In cases where the internet was used to defraud someone, they can look back and say that, “Well, hey, this guy over here used to internet for a crime (sex offender) so the is guy who used it to steal CC numbers or movies should be banned from the internet too.”
I hate to think people would use man’s technology to prey on the little and the weak, but it does happen. I’m all for a good lynchin’ of the offenders who mess with little kids. Screw prison time, let the community deal with it the way it should be dealt with. hang them by their thumbs and stone them!!

You never know says:

You have to be kidding! Trying to enforce that law will be a nightmare. Anyone can walk into Wall-Mart and buy a notebook that is WiFi compatible right off the shelf. Drive to the nearest coffee shop, hay the world is your shopping basket!!! It never ceases’ to amaze me how people can shirk off their responsibility as parents by letting some hap hazard politician’s promise to “Protect the children” with some kind of cockamamie law. Captain Nemo hit the nail right on the head, if we as parents don’t pay enough attention to what our kids are doing on line then we are as guilty as the predators out there. How much time does it take to look over the log files and check the cookies to see where little Jonny has been browsing and chatting with. So what if it “Invades their privacy” when it comes to their safety. Let a few parents pay some big fines or do a little jail time and see how fast little Lucy looses her internet privileges when Mom and Dad find suggestive sex talk in their Second Life Logs. But then again this kind of thinking is what keeps me out of politics…..

TheDock22 says:


You know what would REALLY help stop sexual predators? If both them AND the parents of the abused child were sentenced to prison (one for the criminal act and the parents for negligence). Then the child can be put into the system and either turn violent and go to jail or become successful and rejoin society. Darwin theory.

Parents need to pay more attention to their kids. Site me ONE example where a child was molested and their parents are considered outstanding and devoted parents. Did not think so.

Border says:

Re: Stupidity

Well, my parent’s are upstanding and very active in the community. They are religious but more spiritual (meaning not right wing nuts) and were very nurturing. I was molested by a guy from our church and they never knew until I was older. That wasn’t there fault at all. It happened in my house at a gathering. I was only 8 or so…
There, I sighted you a personal example.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Stupidity

I’m sorry that happened to you.

My parents taught me though that even if I was in our house at a party to NEVER be alone with an adult (not even our family friends) and to always stay in sight of them. We had plenty of family gatherings with friends and I stayed safe. Sometimes parenting is not watching your child like a hawk 24/7, but giving them rules and common sense to live by.

Border says:

Re: Re: Re: Stupidity

I’m over it. it has caused some issues in my life, but who doesn’t have issues. It did however effect my parenting. My child is never alone with any non-family adult. I don’t care for what reason. And he wasn’t much older, not like an adult. He was about 15 or 16 I guess, so who would have guessed.
I has just made me, as a father of 3, more aware of such things.

Damien says:

“My parents taught me though that even if I was in our house at a party to NEVER be alone with an adult (not even our family friends) and to always stay in sight of them.”

What. The. Hell? If your parents distrust other people so much that even family friends aren’t allowed in a room with you alone that’s just not healthy. No wonder you’re so eager to punish everyone in sight at the mention of a sex crime. You’ve been raised in an environment of excessive fear.

And for the record: What exactly in this article makes you people think that they’re restricting this to “child predators”? As mentioned upthread pissing in public will mark you as a sex criminal, as will consensual sex between two minors. You’re acting like every one of these people are out to steal your children or something…

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re:

And for the record: What exactly in this article makes you people think that they’re restricting this to “child predators”? As mentioned upthread pissing in public will mark you as a sex criminal, as will consensual sex between two minors. You’re acting like every one of these people are out to steal your children or something…

Actually I think the sexual offender list is a complete waste of time and that there are too many stupid crimes that force you to register on the list.

I was more reacting to the people saying every sex offender should be killed. If sex offenders deserve to be killed, then parents deserve to lose their children for letting it happen. That is why no law is black and white, you have to allow for some flexibility in every law. Should all sex offenders be outlawed from using the internet? No, because its a waste of time.

pointman says:

Truly a facepalm moment!

Does no one else see what they’re doing? The pedophile is the root password to the constitution–all these politicos need to do is claim the laws will apply only to the pedos and they get passed. THEN, some months or years later similar laws are passed for the rest of us, due to the wonderful precedent set by the pedo laws.

Freedom requires constant vigilance and a refusal to legislate away individual rights and liberties, even against those whose behaviors make them unworthy of such rights and liberties. For a glimpse of how accepting bad legislation works in the real world and where it leads to, look at the ongoing “drug war” and the way “fighting” it has spilled over into the lives of law abiding citizens!


Michael Evans (profile) says:

Really, there are levels of this problem. You’ve got one label ‘Sex Offender’ that can mean anything from someone who kidnaps, violently rapes, and maybe even murders. (Yeah, death penalty, unless someone can provide a recovery program with a better then 50% chance of full social re-integration.) However it can also apply to someone who didn’t know someone was actually 16 or 17, instead of 18 like they might claim. It also means that acts of informed, consensual activity between individuals can be classified as ‘statutory’ (The law says you can’t) non-consensual and therefore rape, maybe even violent depending on the area of enforcement, acts.

How should this be solved? Remove the victims from the equation. Educate all children, through school, to NEVER meet with anyone they know online, to NEVER give out any information that can let someone find them, to NEVER go meet with someone they don’t know outside of a well populated, well lit, public place where it’s extremely easy to ‘make a scene’ and get the real law enforcement involved.

A busy mall food court for example might be a good place, or a movie theater where silence is golden (maybe not with no alarm fire exits…)

Another thing that might be good is if legislation required that phones for children had an extra button (or button mapping) that required them to press the button once per period of time (an hour or two at most, but less if they set it that way), so that the ‘dead man switch’ would automatically go off and broadcast their GPS location to law enforcement and that they’ve failed to respond. Roll cars to the area, but get them on the line too, it could be a false positive.

Of course, you also make them enter an unlock code. It would be a code they set, and they’d have to set at least two, and change them every time they use them.

Only one code would be ‘everything is ok, I’m safe’, the other would make the phone appear to react the same way, but clearly tell law enforcement there IS a problem, and they’re under duress.

John (profile) says:

I say keep going

I say keep going: if you’re convicted of a DUI, you should be forbidden from both drinking alcohol AND driving a car.
Dining out with friends? Sorry, no wine for you. Have to drive to work or pick up the kids? Sorry, no driving for you.

Is this impractical to enforce? Of course. But this looks good on paper, especially combined with the slogan “think of the children who get hit every day by drunk drivers”. You don’t want more children to get hurt do you? Then support “no drinks and no driving” for DUI offenders!

Machinatious says:

Sex Offender Internet Usage

The Internet was created as a free zone. An unregulated worldwide entity where people could speak there minds. Sure caution is in order it is for everything in life.

Victor Frankel a world war II holocaust survivor once remarked that when we don’t stand up for the peoplesociety has targeted to hate in any given generation… the in is not long before someone will come along and take our rights and no one will stand up for us.

Not all sex offenders are predator regardlessof what those who stand tobenefit by creating fear want you to believe. The key to recovery–and most want to recover is inclusion, not exclusion. If you really want to worry try oppressing someone long enough. Eventually a person with any back bone at all is going to rebell and stand up for themselves.

Everyone has made mistakes. We shouldn’t judge someone for the rest of their lives at some point its time to let people move on.

cameron says:

when incarceration exceeds four walls

When do we say when? How can there be a society so devided but yet still stands?
I understand that there are mean people in the world, we are taught that at a very tender age! “Don’t talk to starnger!” “Do I know you?”, “Avoid contact with others, you might catch something!”.
The world would like for everyone to be conformed to someone elses thinking, but where we fail to understand or except. We are all human beings, with some inteligence, and we are created as such, but we seem to fall into this judgement seat making others mistakes alright, and others mistakes, well, lets just say a spectical for others to make fun of or worse.
If we continue to judge others with this level of judgement over our own behavior(s), we are going to fall into a deeper judgement then the one’s that we seem okay with making for others.
I understand that there are laws that can be applied for all to follow, but when is the law weighter then the person that it is to control? At what point does it become more important then the person it was made to help and or protect?

If mankind was a perfect being I would have much to say against it, but we are not! We make and will continue to make mistakes, it is this that seperates us from the animal kingdom, we have reasoning and can think about things before we do them, (to put it mildly), but there are some who need to be guided longer and harder, but that doesn’t take away from who and what they are, they are still human beings with the same rights to breath the same air as us all. We are to support and protect us all, not to seperate and make any less of….
There have been many who have put there very lives on the line and have had to pay with those lives to say and live what they felt to be the Fair Law, for Us All to follow. What is this that we do now, are we tired of being racist with color, creed, or sex? or are we just on a new tangent that brings us back to burning witches at the stake by the words of a few?
Where is the Peace and Happieness that is promissed once the penalty or wrongs have been met?
At what point does the wrong become righted? If The People don’t agree on the punishment, then when will there be peace for the wrong doer, at what point does the crime fit the time?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...