Once Again, A Court Overturns Internet Ban For Convicted Criminal

from the so-can-we-stop-issuing-these-bans? dept

For nearly a decade now, we’ve been questioning the wisdom of punishing a criminal who used the internet as part of their crime, with a ban from internet access. With the internet becoming so integral to everyday activity, it almost seems impossible to ban them from getting on the internet at all. Does it mean they can’t use a smartphone (or even a featurephone)? Can they not use VoIP? It really makes very little sense. Thankfully, it seems like most of these bans get overturned. All the way back in 2002, we wrote about a court overturning such a ban, saying that it was an “unfair encroachment on his liberties.” In 2007, a similar ban was overturned. Earlier this year, another such ban was overturned as being a restriction on the guy’s free speech.

And yet, the courts seem to keep giving out these bans. So, yet again, we have a story of a 30 year computer ban being overturned. And again, the court found that such a ban seems to go way too far. In this case, it was deemed “substantively unreasonable” and “aggressively interferes with the goal of rehabilitation.”

So, at what point do judges stop giving out these kinds of bans in the first place?

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Comments on “Once Again, A Court Overturns Internet Ban For Convicted Criminal”

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Andrew Moshirnia says:

Unfortunately, this court's order is fairly tame

Hi Mike,

I am sad to say that court’s order does not widely oppose Internet or Computer bans “Here, however, the question is not the appropriateness of an internet restriction but its form and severity.” Essentially, the court just wants an option for a probation officer to give individual waivers and (possibly) a shorter ban period. This ban is going to be reimposed with the hope that a probation officer’s judgments will tailor the restriction.

I actually published on this topic today as well. I have a slightly different take here http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2010/right-wrong-reasons-dc-court-appeals-vacates-30-year-computer-ban

GuyFawkes says:

I´m totally against banning anyone from the Internet, even cybercriminals. It´s like banning water. Anyways, it´s funny bc Hadopi and Debill will ban teenagers for downloading copyrighted songs while judges stop banning cracker that commited real crimes (I don´t think that casual copyright infrigiment is even a crime, ie, filesharing).

So what´s now? Infringing copyright will be punished worst them stealing credit cards numbers?

Dumb laws

Don Morse says:

re:Once Again, A Court Overturns Internet Ban For Convicted Criminal

hmmm, so a murderer who used a gun should not be banned access to a firearm, an knife wielding criminal should be able to have access to knives… so it stands to reason a hacker who causes millions/billions of dollars in damages should have access to the Internet in order to do more damage. As an IT manager who has been hired to come in an clean up after these morons, I say it smacks of more of the ACLU’s (American Criminal Liberation Union) effort to keep criminals either on the street or able to commit crimes.

Anonymous Coward says:


I wouldn’t think that computer bans are bad per say, and could be more akin for having your license pulled when driving. It wouldn’t stop you from riding with someone else, or taking a bus, or taxi, or any number of other forms of transportation.

What I can see with internet control would be a court ordering some control. So that you can still get a VIOP phone with your cable, but the computer being there only for work and living requirements. (Email to family, paying bills, looking for work, banking, ect and so on.)

The only problem I can see with that is how you would enforce such a ban, or that it would even be possible. Between working with phones, work computers, rebooted ATMs running a win98 login, and library computers it would get nearly impossible.

More then like the best option was be to state that a parole officer should set limits and then do their own work to try and help. (For crimes that don’t involve outright murder, rape, vilance, or large amounts of money I tend to support aggressive rehabilitation.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think it’s analogous to that at all. The internet has become an indispensable part of our lives in many ways. Lots of businesses will no longer accept paper resumes, instead insisting that you can only apply online. More and more government services are being put online only. People in small towns rely on internet ordering for delivery of goods that aren’t locally available. Many public libraries now only make their catalogs available online.

Hundreds more examples could be given. The scope of what is available online is now so broad, and in many cases so essential, that it’s not analogous to banning people from contact with certain areas or people.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Bu but but

There are very few devices of modern life that don’t include a computer these days. If you can’t use a computer then you also can’t use a telephone, drive a car, use a vacuum cleaner, a fridge, a washing machine, a dishwasher, listen to the radio etc etc. There simply is no job you could do without at some point encountering one. Such a ban is nonsense. The courts may make them – but then the courts are well know to be capable of all kinds of stupidity.

ALANTONE (profile) says:

AT&T and Apple unfairly encroach on our liberties

If these punishments can be overturned based on the logic that it is an “unfair encroachment on his liberties” why can we not apply this same argument to meter Internet access or any situations where ISPs try to limit our ability to access the Internet? And yes I understand the business side, but I still think that it is unfair for AT&T and Apple to limit our IPhones to how we can communicate using Skype or other similar services via their 3G system.

Anonymous Coward says:

A pedophile uses an internet social site to lure your under aged daughters and sons out to place were he then proceeds to molest them. He gets caught and then probation after X years. As soon as he gets out he gets right back on the computer to do it again and this time he kills the person so he cannot get caught. These are criminals we are talking about not normal citizens.

DH's love child says:

Re: Re:

The problem with these blanket bans is they DON’T work. If the crime is really so bad that the person shouldn’t be interacting with people, don’t let them out of prison to begin with. You can’t lump all ‘cyber’ crimes together.

to use your example: what if, instead, the pedophile grabbed the kid as he came off public public transit and molested them. Should he now be banned from all forms of public transportation or just that bus, or not in public at all? The problem with broad strokes like this is that they’re too broad – always.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m glad that these types of issues are coming before the court. As more and more Internet related issue come up, I think the court/society is going to have to deal with them in a more sensible way than just a complete ban.

I know that it is easy to ban use of the Internet of a pedophile, but how about someone who’s been convicted of downloading a couple of songs/videos illegally.

As the Internet has become almost a necessity of daily life, I think that banning someone completely from the use of email or a job hunting site solves nothing and creates a completely new underclass of people.

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