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What Do Court-Ordered Internet Bans Really Mean? 453

Posted by timothy
from the not-a-heckuva-lot-just-yet dept.
tcd004 writes "Chris Lamprecht, a.k.a. Minor Threat, was the first person to be banned from the internet back in 1995. Since then, the practice has gained popularity worldwide. In the last year, courts in Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States have all banned people from the Internet. A British court recently banned a convicted pedophile specifically from entering chatrooms for 10 years. But how effective are the bans? Minor Threat contends that the rules governing his internet ban use were toothless. How much harder is it to keep people off the internet in an age when everything--from parking meters to refrigerators--comes with an IP address." (Note: the Globe and Mail story requires registration.)
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What Do Court-Ordered Internet Bans Really Mean?

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  • I'm banned (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:15PM (#11088625)
    Not sure how well it works for others, but I'm banned from the internet....
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:22PM (#11089544)
      There's nothing magic because the internet is involved.

      Court orders that ban people from driving very seldom actually stop people from driving.

      Court orders that ban people from going near someone they were harrassing/assualting/stalking seldom work.

      • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @05:11AM (#11090818) Homepage
        Yeah, but everyone, no matter how clueless, understands what it means to drive. Everyone knows what it means to harass. But an awful lot of people don't actually understand what the phrase "the internet" refers to, and don't understand how ubiquitous it really is. In 1995 it wouldn't have been a problem to live without internet. Today it is still possible, but it is a bit limiting. A few years down the road I predict it will be next to impossible to avoid the internet and still be an active member of civilization. Avoiding the internet is going to mean never using a bank, never paying for anything with any means besides cash, never using a store, never having the ability to make remote contact (have to come to your house to talk to you since telephone service will merge with internet service.)

        The internet is a lot more than "that thar web thingy", and it is becoming more so with each passing year.

        There is something "magic" about the internet that makes it different - it is not an end-infrastructure in itself - it's an enabling infrastructure that other infrastructures are built on top of, and more and more necessary infrastructures of society are moving onto it.

        Eventually "you can't use the internet" will be like "You can't use electricity."
        • "Avoiding the internet is going to mean never using a bank, never paying for anything with any means besides cash, never using a store"

          Utter nonsense.

          No matter how pervasive the internet becomes, walking into a store, picking up an item, walking to the paydesk and paying for the item will not involve the customer using the internet.

          Sure, the back-end may be entirly network based, but the CUSTOMER is not using that backend.

          Oh, and if your shop does have all its backend processing handled via the internet
          • No matter how pervasive the internet becomes, walking into a store, picking up an item, walking to the paydesk and paying for the item will not involve the customer using the internet.

            You make the assumption that physical stores themselves won't go the way of the dodo.

            Now, I don't think that will happen "within a few years", but it seems like a very real trend. Perhaps within a few decades, the only brick-and-mortar stores around will have hideous prices and only exist to cater to wealthy retro-luddit
  • Same as always (Score:3, Insightful)

    by koreaman (835838) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:15PM (#11088629)
    Before computers, there were difficulties getting people to respect parole and probation.

    With computers, there are difficulties getting people to respect parole and probation.

    But we seem to have dealt with the problem so far, so why can't we deal with it nowadays?
  • by OneArmedMan (606657) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:16PM (#11088644)
    Better not let em near touch tone phones either, just in case they want to launch a Nuclear strike! ...

    • Re:Internet Ban (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sexysciencegirl (829001) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:39PM (#11088820) Homepage
      I assume you're referring to Kevin Mitnick's case where he was refused a phone call. This one actually made some sense from the law-enforcement point of view. We just need to pretend we are the police and start with the assumption that Kevin is indeed a powerful hacker-terrorist committed to causing death and destruction. Now what would a hacker-terrorist do for a contingency plan? He would set up his most devastating hacking scripts and make them activatable by a modem listening on a dedicated phone line. And all you need to launch the attack is a phone call to a specific number. Of course, Kevin was actually a pretty different character but the authorities didn't really have any way of verifying that this was the case.
      • He would set up his most devastating hacking scripts and make them activatable by a modem listening on a dedicated phone line. And all you need to launch the attack is a phone call to a specific number.

        Right. He's been caught for hacking (or whatever), so now he'll add fuel to the fire by launching a devastating attack from a police station phone. Assuming he can actually reach the number (some places restrict calls to local numbers only).

        In order to have maximum deniability and guarantee the launch, th

      • Re:Internet Ban (Score:4, Interesting)

        by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:41PM (#11089264) Journal
        And all you need to launch the attack is a phone call to a specific number.

        But the same could easily be said for kidnappers, yet they still get their one phone-call.

        Besides, Mitnick wasn't charged with murder, and facing a lifetime in jail, so it's pretty absurd to jump to the conclusion that he would even desire to launch a nuclear attack...

        There's more risk someone would call in a hit on a judge/witness/prosecuter, yet criminals still get their one phone call.
      • Re:Internet Ban (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dark_requiem (806308)
        You are operating under the assumption of guilty until proven innocent. Mitnick stole source code, which I most certainly do not condone, but he by no means attempted to commit acts of terrorism, death, or destruction, nor did he provide any probable cause to suspect him of such intentions. This is the entire basis of (pre-neo-con) American law. Law enforcement must always take a back seat to innate rights, or freedom loses, not criminals. When law enforcement supersedes innate rights, you have, by defi
      • Re:Internet Ban (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:51PM (#11089325) Homepage
        He would set up his most devastating hacking scripts and make them activatable by a modem listening on a dedicated phone line. And all you need to launch the attack is a phone call to a specific number. Of course, Kevin was actually a pretty different character but the authorities didn't really have any way of verifying that this was the case.

        That is exactly the sort of thing he did, repeatedly.

        Outlaws have always attracted support from the gullible who want to romanticize their behaviors. The fact is that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were both brutal murderers, same for Bonnie and Clyde. Mitnick didn't kill people but he did his best to make life very unpleasant for a lot of people.

        The point is that a person arrested for making harassing telephone calls does not get to use their telephone call to call their victim. There is no right to a telephone call, only to have someone contacted which can be on your behalf if the police choose.

      • Re:Internet Ban (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xchino (591175) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:58PM (#11089375)
        "Of course, Kevin was actually a pretty different character but the authorities didn't really have any way of verifying that this was the case."

        Nor do they have any way of varifying that my one phone call wont do the exact same, nor yours, nor anyone elses. We have the presumption of innocence in this country, and it's one of those troublesome rights given to us by our misguided founders. Of course, I'd like to make a phone call in that same situation, I'm sure you would too, but it's ok to forget about due process if it's someone else, right? I dont care if they thought the guy was Hitler reincarnate, he was an american citizen and deserved the same fair treatment as you or I.
        • Re:Internet Ban (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @03:23AM (#11090571)
          So, are you legally entitled to that one phone call, or are you legally entitled to contact someone (lawyer, friend, family member, etc)? That is, is it an unquestionable violation of your rights if they refuse to allow you to make the call but give you pen and paper to send a letter, or offer to go pick the person up and bring them in to talk face to face, etc? If so, can you point to the statute that makes it such?

          Not trying to be an arse, but I would have thought that the point is to allow the prisoner to contact the outside world, *not* to give them a phone call. For instance, what of a mute? Do they have no right to contact, because they can't use a phone?
        • Re:Internet Ban (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lost Race (681080)
          It doesn't even matter whether he was an American citizen. The rights recognized by the US Constitution are innate human rights; everybody has them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:17PM (#11088647)
    Easy just use the Internet2.
  • Terms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dirkdidit (550955) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:17PM (#11088652) Homepage
    With voice over IP becoming more common place with carriers like Vonage, etc., phone calls are starting to travel over the internet. Does an internet ban mean they are banned from all things internet? If it does, some people may screwed 5 or 10 years down the road when it comes to even using a telephone, as they too will use the internet.
    • Re:Terms (Score:2, Informative)

      by dark_requiem (806308)
      That was the problem with the Mitnick case, if I understood it correctly. The way I heard it, the judge in the case banned him from using a computer, in general, for professional or personal reasons, for some number of years. Which prevents him from doing anything but manual labor. McDonalds uses computers for taking orders, so he couldn't even work there. I could be mistaken, but that was what I was given for the details of the case. Of course, I was 16 and rather impressionable at the time, and I was
  • by yanestra (526590) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:19PM (#11088660) Journal
    These bans are very specific to the anglo-american law system, I suppose. It works by threatening with punishment for "contempt of court", which is a construct, I think, not present in any other modern law system.

    It shouldn't be there either, because it opens the door to pure arbitrariness.

    • it does open the door to arbitrariness, but lets face it - anything that involves the interpretation of law with regards to human society involves a large degree of flexibility (and thus arbitrariness) anyway. this is true for code and well as common law systems. and actually, though IANAL, on first glance i doubt this is true - that code law systems don't have a misdemeanor analagous to "contempt of the court," even if those exact words might not be used. can anyone verify?
    • I am afraid that you do not understand the subject matter. These terms would be parts of parole, not Contempt of Court. Parole is basically the prisoner trading hard time for external life, with extreme restrictions.

      Contempt of court (in the American System) has two forms of occurence and two forms of punishment. There are Direct (telling the judge to go fuck himself) and Indirect (disobeying a court ordered moratorium on proceedings) forms. The punishment can be either Criminal (jail time) or Civil (removal from the courtroom). Civil punishment ceases once compliance with the judge's orders are met, and Criminal punishment requires a trial, with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

      I really don't see too much room for "pure arbitrariness", because Judges who act improperly can be censured, and federal judges can be impeached. Local judges are typically elected officials, so they have the same responsibilities to the public as say the sheriff, who has far more power.

      I am sorry that you seem to think that it opens the door to "pure arbitrariness", but doesn't giving any position of power do the same? I would hope that we have enough faith in the judicial system that this small bit of power isn't so abused as to be to a net deficit?
    • It shouldn't be there either, because it opens the door to pure arbitrariness.

      If judges don't have the ability to find people in contempt, then court orders become voluntary, which is kind of the opposite of the point.

      And contempt charges are especially easy to appeal, and they're routinely overturned.
  • Zero Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LewsTherinKinslayer (817418) <lewstherinkinslayer@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:20PM (#11088662) Homepage
    The term "internet" is a damn broad statement in and of itself. I think that has a lot to do with just exactly where to draw a line as to what's considered using the internet or not. Touchtone telephones for example. A grey area.

    I'd say that the aforementioned pedophile's example was quite a bit different. He has a rule like "no chat rooms for 10 years." I'd say a chat room is fairly easy to define, and a much clearer cut case.

    Also, the "toothless" threat of this is just like the "toothless" threat that is given to people on parole or probation for drug offenses. You can't be around anyone who is using drugs as part of the deal. Can they really enforce that too effectively? Its supposed to be a point. Something you're supposed to regulate yourself on, because, on the off chance they do find out, you're in a whole world of trouble.
    • The term "internet" is a damn broad statement in and of itself. I think that has a lot to do with just exactly where to draw a line as to what's considered using the internet or not

      that's exactly the question- what is using the internet, and, how reasonable is such a punishment as internet usage becomes even more common than it is now?

      10, or even 5 years ago, you could get by without an email address... you could have a normal family life, and an almost normal job, and never think about email... but no
    • A "chat room" is easy to define? Oh please, go ahead, define it. Maybe I'm just not hip to the lingo like those groovy judges these days, but the only time I've ever heard the term "chat room" uttered by another human being is when I'm watching some outdated/ill-informed tv show. I vaguely remember AOL lusers calling IRC channels a "chat room" back around 1997 when AOL gave up trying to keep them off the net and opened the flood gates. But hey, I'm sure there's some weirdos out there that consider Slash
      • All this convicted person has to do is write his java chatroom on some website, and he'll own 100% of the code. He can make his own rules, and others who join it has to play by it. Not that he would... but he could.

  • by IO ERROR (128968) * <error.ioerror@us> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:20PM (#11088663) Homepage Journal
    Freshly registered during The Mysterious Past:

    Login: CowboyNeal
    Password: CowboyNeal

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:20PM (#11088665)
    If you're banned by the court to normally legal X activity, and you are caught doing X activity, then you can be fined and/or sent to jail.
  • AOL (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:22PM (#11088679)
    I think if someone is banned from the Internet for hacking they should be forced to use AOL, dial-up, version 1.5.
    • Re:AOL (Score:5, Funny)

      by chaffed (672859) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:41PM (#11088838) Homepage
      I think that qualifies as Cruel and Unsual Punishment [wikipedia.org]

      The "unusual" provision, at least, is clear: providing that persons will not be subjected to arbitrary, humiliating, or carpricious punishment outside the normal course of the law

    • Being forced to use AOL is punishment in and of itself!
  • Did you know? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Prophetic_Truth (822032) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:25PM (#11088711)
    Minor Threat along with Mucho Maas authored ToneLoc [securityfocus.com], a great war dialer. Hours upon hours I sat, watched, and listened while it scanned. Great Stuff..
    • Re:Did you know? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:24PM (#11089153) Homepage Journal
      Ahh ToneLoc, those were the days. Here in Australia we used to have 008 freecall numbers (now we have 1800 numbers like the rest of the world). I remember I scanned a block of 10,000 numbers over the course of a week. I got a nasty little letter from the national telephone carrier Telstra warning me not to abuse the telephone system. I remember calling them up and demanding what the hell their problem was. "It's a free call, I can make as many as I wish" I said. They told me there had been a complaint. Some travel lodge claimed they had received over a hundred calls with no-one on the other end (the call would last nothing more than 1 or 2 seconds before the modem dropped the connection and moved onto the next number). I insisted that I had called each number in the block no more than once in the entire scan. Telstra sent me a list of dates and times for the calls that had been connected to the complaining travel lodge's phone. There was over 300 calls that had been connected. I correlated the times that Telstra had sent with my scan logs and found that Telstra had routed three 100 number blocks to the same telephone. Once I explained this to the technician who had been assigned the matter he immediately found and corrected the problem. These days I suppose they would have just sent the cops around to arrest me on some trumped up terrorist charge or something.

    • Re:Did you know? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by constandinos (740740)
      Sure do. Chris is a friend of Cerebrum and myself (tel0p). ToneLoc rocked. I even wrote a 'port' for my Commi 128 (with notification to boot ;). Fun times indeed. After a while I was 'banned' from the 'net' as well. In fact, I had to get permission to even use a computer (for college). [ due to a conviction for computer trespass into Boeing and the USDistrict court here in Seattle ].. the high-point of the 'ban' was when my USPO came into my bedroom, got on her hands and knees under my desk, and looked for
  • Tantamount (Score:5, Funny)

    by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:27PM (#11088721) Homepage
    A ban from the internet for me would be tantamount to a death sentence.
    • ...I'm a 'bot!
  • Punative jeopardy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bm17 (834529) * <brm@yoyodyne.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:35PM (#11088783)
    I would think that the point of something like this is to make sentencing easier if a person is caught for the same crime. Maybe there will be a point where they think the person has commited another crime and I'll the evidence that they have is the web activity. That would be enough to bring him in for questioning. And if they did convict him for this new crime, the penelty would be that much more severe if they could also pin breaking the Internet ban on him. I doubt that they expect to actually enforce the ban.
  • Job Requirements (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:44PM (#11088849) Homepage
    At many jobs, a networked PC is standard office equipment and is needed for corporate email, time cards, etc. Would a court tell a convicted forger that he was prohibited from using pen and paper?
  • by durtbag (694991) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:45PM (#11088856)
    I cannot imagine a punishment like that. I mean how many people needto use the WWW/Internet for school and work? Would they force you to resign from your job and/or change your major because you can no longer use the internet? This isn't like drunk drivers being banned from drinking. Alcohol isn't *cough* necesarry *cough* for most jobs.
    • by beerits (87148) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:07PM (#11089021)
      This isn't like drunk drivers being banned from drinking.

      No it isn't. It is more like banning drunk drivers from driving.
    • This is why it's called a "punishment." The penalty is intentionally meant to deter. It's like taking away people's drivers licenses - having a car is necessary for many jobs too, but the public seems to agree it's a valid punishment in some circumstances.
  • Slippery slope? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:49PM (#11088886) Journal
    Does anyone else worry that such bans will become more commonplace on non-technically oriented crimes?

    I mean, I recall (possibly incorrectly) that the journalist who was just given house arrest for not revealing his sources is banned from the net.

    How long before smoking pot bans you from the net? Or protesting? ;-)

    With the Internet as the primary communications method for the world (or at least the backbone for the various protocols), how long before repressive governments use this to suppress those who's opinions they don't like?

    Would it be so clear-cut if you, convicted of a non-technical crime, were banned from sending snail-mail or using the telephone for a year?
  • on the ankle, similar to the tracking ankle devices, and that would give a shock every time the person is near a computer? Surely there has to be some low frequency emissions from computers in general that a device can be tuned to, producing a reaction.
    • That's an insane idea. First of all, it's brutal and punitive. And going near a computer isn't a violation of the probation, using one is. What happens when he walks into any office building? A doctor's office or a dentist's office? He gets a shock?
    • by Chatmag (646500) <editor@chatmag.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:13PM (#11089480) Homepage Journal
      The idea as written will remain insane to you until its your child being molested.

      If you think the idea is insane, remember we're talking about a pedophile. Wander over to NANAE sometime, and check out the posts with suggestions for dealing with spammers, an obviously lesser crime than child molestation. In particular the thinly veiled threat to firebomb the same NOC that houses my servers. There were some spammers leasing rack space in the NOC, not connected in any way to myself, and the problems had been dealth with by the hosting provider.

      Come on now, think about it. I didnt mean a "knee knocking" jolt, just a tingle. But there are other variations that could be done such as sending a signal to the police, similar to the tracking ankle bracelets worn now by some home confined felons.

      Maybe I'll look into patents, you never know.
  • by anon*127.0.0.1 (637224) <slashdotNO@SPAMbaudkarma.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:52PM (#11088912) Journal
    1) Have every website to require registration.
    2) Give the websites a list of the people who have been banned.
    3) If a banned person signs up for a website, shoot them!

    I'll be solving world hunger next week.

  • by Saeger (456549) <`farrellj' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:56PM (#11088935) Homepage
    Trying to legally ban someone from using a device connected to the internet is just as futile as trying to ban him from using the phone network, or a vocal network, but that won't stop judges from trying anyway.

    The only way to effectively ban someone from something as ubiquitous as the internet would be to either put him in a (faraday) prison, or track him every second of the day with police state measures.

    • Or rely on deterrence. There's more than one way to stop crime - just because shops don't all have armed security guards doesn't mean criminalizing robbery is futile.
      • There's more than one way to stop crime - just because shops don't all have armed security guards doesn't mean criminalizing robbery is futile.

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't robbery illegal gfor everybody? Banning only applies to the banned.

  • by Shadowlore (10860) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:58PM (#11088953) Journal
    Essentially, I see such "punishments" as a result of laziness on the part of the sentencing entity. The judges are failing to apply reasonable standards and realize that online behaviour is fundamentally not different from offline behaviour.

    If a person is convicted of pedophile behaviour with a child he/she met in the shopping mall, do they the judges ban them from shopping malls? If they met them at a McDonalds, do they get banned from fast food restaraunts? Not that I am aware of.

    If someone "knocks over" a convenience store or a bank, do they get banned from entering convenience stores or banks? Again, not that I know of. With possibly one or two rare exceptions I don't know of any offline crime where the convicted is banned from all locations similar to the crime scene.

    So why do we suddenly think that banning pedophiles and crackers from the Internet, or phones, or other communicative technology is useful or effective? In my opinion the idea that the Internet is somehow different and that you can be banned from using it by committing a crime on it (or using it to get information to commit a crime) is dangerous to freedom of speech and information. Indeed, may even serve to perpetuate crime.

    In today's society it is becoming more and more commonplace to carry out one's business, education, and entertainment online. From online banking and bill pay to online shopping, getting one's degree or a job. Even the local job service and unemployment offices are online.

    As the value of the Internet in our daily lives increases such a sentence -if enforcable and enforced- is a damming one in that it begins to perpetuate a class of have-nots with regard to such cost savings and opportunities. Increasingly with government going online the government itself would then be creating a class of citizen that is effectively banned from many government services.

    Ultimately it will be impossible to monitor one's access to the Internet, chatrooms, etc. w/o constant supervision. This will naturally lead to a lack of respect for such actions/penalties causing a further drop in respect for law in general. As this increases additional crimes will be committed. Not unlike when as a child if you got "sentenced" to being house restriction but mom and dad were not around to enforce it you began to realize it was toothless and didn't care about it.

    Only by treating "cracking" the same as we would such an act in the offline world (breaking and entering, theft, fraud, etc.) can we expect our laws and punishments to be anything near rational and respectable. Banning pedophiles from the place they met their victims doesn't change the pedophile's behaviour.

    Just like (IMO) it is wrong to be able to patent something you can do online that you can't get a patent for doing in a "brick and mortar" store, it is wrong to view crime online as different than crime offline. Theft is theft, fraud is fraud, and pedophilia is pedophilia. The Internet doesn't change that.
  • by BuenasOlas (832203) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:02PM (#11088981)
    If you are on parole/probation you are screwed anyhow. Good luck getting a job at that internet company after checking the box that says "Have you ever been convicted of a felony", even if you aren't restricted from using the internet. Most companies now even ask if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor(do not check this box if it was posession of Marijuana). If you get rolled in this country you are royally screwed for a while. So get a good lawyer, and pay him a lot of money to get your record expunged.
    • I've seen job applications that ask if one has ever been arrested.

      In Lake County, Illinois (and a lot of other places, I suppose), when you are ticketed by a police officer, it constitutes an arrest. You are released on your agreement to either (1) admit guilt and accept the court's sentence, (2) pay a fine which results in the criminal charge being expunged (but not you driving record being cleared, obviously), or (3) appear before the court to answer the charge.

      Even if you appear before the court and

  • by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl&excite,com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:02PM (#11088984) Journal

    On the one hand, people are quite often prohibited from normally-legal activity (such as leaving the state) during a probation or parole period. However, it would seem to me that, with the Internet taking over more and more everyday functions (VoIP, the wide use of email, IM, and videoconferencing in business, Web-based applications coming into wider use by corporations, in some companies, including the one I work for, you have to log into an online server just to punch in), this could effectively amount to a prohibition from holding any but the most menial jobs during your probation/parole period. I think that, looked at that way, that would certainly seem to be cruel, excessive punishment.

    The arguments that "they can bust the hacker if he's caught again" seem somewhat specious to me. They can already bust him for committing the same crime again, and they can already punish a second offense more harshly than a first. They don't need some "violation of an internet ban" to do either.

    In balance, while I can understand the reasoning behind this line of thought, I don't think it's an acceptable punishment. I can see why it might've been thought so in 1995, but this is not 1995 and it no longer is.

  • Not sure if others have addressed this, but wouldn't prohibiting internet use be restricting what has become an entirely new medium for free speech? Is it legal to prohibit someone from the internet? Constitutional?
    • This is just restricting one avenue. One that the individual in question has been proven to not be able to use responsibly. It is NOT removing his rights to say what he wants. There is life outside the internet.

      Speech is already restricted in many ways. Yelling "Fire!" for instance.

  • How about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1. Ban criminal from using the Internet
    2. Make no serious effort to enforce this ban
    3. Wait for criminal to commit another crime
    4. In gathering evidence determine criminal was engaged in the use of the Internet in violation of the ruling of the courts.
    5. Throw on extra charges that are easy to prove and thus gain a position of power in plea agreements or sentencing.
    6. Go about throwing other criminals into prison.
  • So, once I'm banned from the internet, presumably I can't conduct any of my antiquated-but-still-effective social engineering password 'recovery' methods either?

    Or write sql-injection instructions longhand using my daffy-duck pencil to be carried out on the internet by others?

    Or read paper hard-copy versions of web pages?

    I can still use SMS though, right?
  • Banned from the net (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:37PM (#11089233)
    Back in '94, a federal judge in Seattle banned me and my codefendant for a period of three years from using a modem or "network device".

    Strange how I was allowed to work at a media company there, that contained the word "Networks" in it, without hassle.

    Of course all good things must come to an end, and the Feds raided my office and had me fired the next day.

    What irritates me is the irrational fear that keeping a "bad person" off the information highway is going to rehabilitate him. After all the net is a mixture of both public and private services, and tightly integrated into the common everyday activities that normal people use.

    I suppose the Judge felt he was revoking my "privilege" to use the Net, but it was more of a first amendment ban if anything.

    The question becomes, should people be qualified and licensed to use the Internet, since judges feel that it an earned privilege, not a God-given right?

  • Internet Ban (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:19PM (#11089522) Homepage Journal
    This would have been more appropriately asked to lawyers, not a bunch of IANAL's. :)

    But, from the experience I have (a few law classes, and plenty of time on both sides with lawyers), a ban such as this, while to encourage the person not to do something, is more inclined to give a harsher penalty if they should do it again.

    For example, if you get a DUI, you'll very likely lose your license. You may also be prohibited from drinking. It varies by the state and circumstances. Now say you go to a bar and drink. You probably won't get caught. But if you go to a bar and are involved in a bar fight, now you'll be dragged off for VOP. Judges don't generally like it when you do something directly against what they just told you, and will probably drop you in the nearest jail for the full term of your probation, or longer, depending on his mood.

    I've heard judges let things go lightly, because they know it was a subtle offense. Like, the VoIP, and IP enabled appliances that I see referenced in the comments. If you were chatting up underaged girls and the judge said to stay off the Internet, but then you were caught talking to your mom on a Vonage phone, he'd probably let it go. But if you were on a PC in a Internet Cafe, trolling for underage girls, sure as hell you'd be spending time in jail.

    Consider the incident with Richard Ricci in the Elizabeth Smart case (kidnapping in Utah). Ricci was told by the judge not to drink. They raided his house because they suspected he might be involved (and then it was later proven he wasn't), but arrested him for drinking a beer. If he didn't have the beer, they would have needed real evidence to arrest him. Since he had violated that prior ruling, he was screwed, even though that's the only thing he had done wrong. If they hadn't suspected him of kidnapping and murder, they would have probably let him go with a warning.

  • And I'm even ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mthreat (632318) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @02:54AM (#11090490) Homepage

    And I'm even a slashdot user [slashdot.org], since just about the time my ban ended ;)

    -chris

"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw

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