Three Strikes Is Out? UK Judges Rule Internet Ban Is 'Unreasonable', Even For Sex Offenders

from the it's-a-human-right dept

Last week, Techdirt wrote about a US teenager being banned from using the Internet until his 21st birthday as punishment for his involvement with some Web site break-ins. That seems incredibly harsh, and as Mike noted, earlier bans have been tossed out on the grounds that they were unreasonable.

And that is exactly what has just happened in the UK, as the Guardian reports:

Banning anyone from the internet is an "unreasonable" restriction, two appeal court judges have ruled, suggesting that access to a computer at home has become a basic human right.

The decision by Mr Justice Collins and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC signals judicial recognition of how pervasive digital communications are in an era when a multitude of services can be obtained online.
What makes this judgment even more interesting is that, as with cases in the US, it concerned a sex offender. Normally, these result in especially severe sentences. So for an Internet ban to be held to be "unreasonable" even here means that for far less serious offences -- unauthorized sharing of copyright works, say -- it is hard to see Net disconnection imposed by a lower UK court being upheld upon appeal.

That would seem to spell the end of the "three strikes and you're out" approach in the UK. Of course, there are still plenty of other unjust ways of exacting collective punishment on families -- throttling their Internet connection rather than cutting it off, for example -- but it is nonetheless a hugely important decision. In particular, it seems bound to impact the UK's Digital Economy Act, whose detailed implementation is still being discussed.

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Filed Under: bans, human right, internet access, three strikes, uk


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2012 @ 9:58am

    These are probably judges that got fed up calling various customer service reps and getting told that you should "..go online to our website and click 'this' and 'that' and 'this' and 'that'..." Or they are probably upgrading their system so that criminals can just check-in online with their parole officers and vice-versa.
    Either way if they see it as a basic human right, maybe all internet access should be free, and if you get caught breaking the law you lose that privilege but instead you have to pay for your internet access.

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