Is It Even Possible To Ban Someone From Using A Computer?

from the more-difficult-than-you-might-think dept

A few years back, after hearing about a few similar rulings, we wondered if it was reasonable (or even feasible) to ban someone from using computers or the internet if they were found guilty of committing crime online. It seemed pretty excessive, especially considering how integrated computers and the internet have become with every day life. Last summer, a judge came to the same conclusion overturning a ban while noting how excessive that is as punishment. Apparently, however, not all judges quite understand this. A woman accused of fraud in a tax preparation scam has been banned from using computers while she waits for trial. That seems excessively broad (especially for someone who hasn’t been found guilty yet). And how do they define “computer” in this situation? Can she use a mobile phone? What about an ATM machine? Self-checkout computer? This seems like one of those things that sounds good to a judge who hasn’t actually thought through the ramifications of such a broad ban in today’s world.

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Comments on “Is It Even Possible To Ban Someone From Using A Computer?”

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Freedom says:


A quick look up on the definition of a ‘computer’ and this is what came up:

An electronic, digital device that stores and processes information.

So that pretty much means she’s sc*ewed! Hell, with that definition if pushed you could argue that almost anything electric that stores state information couldn’t be used.

I often wonder in these cases what’s the point. Can she by proxy have someone else use a computer for her. If so, isn’t that dangerous.

What amazes me is that we have a significant number of successful business owners as clients that don’t use a computer at all and frankly wouldn’t see a problem with this. Then again, they have enough money to pay someone else to deal with everyone else that does have to use them.


Fushta says:


-Can’t drive any car that was build after 1975 (guessing)
-Can’t use a digital watch, clock, a stove w/digital read-out, microwave, radio, electronic keyboard

You get my point. The terms of the “banishment” should be limited to Internet access. That means no access from home, cell phone, library, etc.

chris (profile) says:

they did it to mitnick

as part of his probation, and he just hired someone to read and reply to his email for him.

then, when he went on lecture tours talking about security they tried to stop him from doing that too. i guess when they banned him from “using” computers, they meant “thinking about” computers.

honestly, it would be more humane to just kill the person.

Jake says:

This sort of idiotic ban is so common that it’s barely even news here in Britain; curfews that prevent people from buying food, bans for ‘offenders’ too ravaged by mental illness or substance misuse to even understand them, bans that are impossible to enforce… I sometimes wonder if the all-consuming need to please the tabloids overwrote this administration’s common sense of just filled a void that was already there.

comboman says:

out of touch judges

This seems like one of those things that sounds good to a judge who hasn’t actually thought through the ramifications of such a broad ban in today’s world.

No, this seems like on of those things that sounds good to a 70-year-old judge who can’t get his VCR to stop flashing 12:00 AM. There is a serious generation gap between the people who make and interpret law and the rest of us.

Steve says:

The judiciary is woefully uninformed technologically

A elderly district court judge here in the south ordered the seizure of “all records in whatever form including all computers in possession of the defendants” in a civil IP case. Would that mean his TV, radio, car, watch, calculators, PlayStation, iPod, telephone, R/C airplane, kids toys, fever thermometer, camera, oven, dishwasher, dryer, microwave, pacemaker, Makita drill battery charger …. the list goes on and on.

In industry we demand specificity — in the justice system it is abhorred.

Anonymous Coward says:

You guys are all...

IDIOTS. Read the article. It says they are waiting for her to go to trail, so during that time she is banned from using computers. And if she can get out of jail on the 1 million dollar bail then there might be a problem, but she is probably going to jail for life if she is convicted of all the crimes she is charged with.

Computer Consultant Secrets (user link) says:

The many advances in technology have certainly both expanded the realm of possibilities and also blurred lines of the law in many cases, particularly when it comes to copyright issues with not only creative works (music files being the biggest of them all) but also software packages, etc. In the last 10 years, musicians and artists have worked to revise copyright law so it can better represent the possibilities for infringement that have been brought about by mp3’s and file sharing, and many software companies are also starting to follow suit, at least in the form of penalizing those that use pirated copies. While technology has also given us the ability to very closely monitor everyone using the Internet and even in many cases watch everything anyone is doing at any given time, it’s still impossible to imagine that a total ban on computers for a person could be enforced properly, if only because we haven’t fully “defined” everything yet when it comes to the technological realm. It seems like it’s probably going to take a long time before we revise all the rules of copyright and the law to keep up with the latest advances.

dualboot says:

Collect unemployment? Oops!

I have yet to work at any job in the past 20 years that didn’t require me to use a computer. So, is she supposed to get fired just because she has been accused and not even convicted? Even if she is convicted, do judges just want her to be a drain on the tax payers in this country? She’ll have to file for unemployment. Oh no! Maybe she won’t be able to collect… don’t they make you type a form on the computer to file? Hmm… better just live on the street and starve to death, then if this judge is right. And how would they know… are they going to embed finger-print recognition on every computer? You can use the library computers for free, and the IP address is not tied to you…

Where’s Swift when you need another “Modest Proposal?”

Bryan See (profile) says:

Possibility of computer banning - through ransomware

After reading an article on Encyclopedia Dramatica, it is said that I discovered a quite elaborate conspiracy in place to stifle my contributions (by fabricating and distorting my history) and force my suicide via an increase in my medication in order to “become well.” As on, Wikipedia is a lost cause, and it is bound to get me, through my arch enemy BatteryIncluded, the administrators and arbitrators alike. This is why most of my appeals to Wikipedia’s BASC denied many times without any further reason. I think banning someone from using a computer or the Internet is probably going to be used in this conspiracy against me on behalf of BatteryIncluded. It may be achieved through some kind of ransomware in which payment is not needed (as being used in many police ransom viruses), but rather, it directs the user to be well in order to unlock it for anyone to use a computer. For example, after the individual is banned from using a computer, a kitten is given to him with a lovely suicide threat by BatteryIncluded.

By the way, current ransomware bans computer users for alleged violations of laws unless a payment is made as a supposed “fine.” They use official logos such as FBI or other authority to scare people into doing so. In addition, they could use logos of antivirus software to improve credibility of the virus. As usual, the virus locks down a computer and bans the person behind it, but it doesn’t usually destroy any data stored onto it. Besides, major computer-related offenses such as hacking and downloading illegal material merit a computer ban, whether is temporary or indefinite.

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