There are those out there who believe that banning a criminal, no matter how serious the crime, from access to the internet is unconstitutional and borderline inhumane. That’s because they feel that the internet and reasonable access to it is necessary to function in our modern society. So integral to our daily lives, in fact, that it has risen to the status of a basic human right.
Judges in American cities have expressed this opinion in numerous cases. Take for instance the Louisiana appeals judge who disagreed with the state’s ban on sex offenders using the internet, calling it “unconstitutionally overbroad.”
“The near total ban on internet access imposed by the act unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world,” he said.
And just last week, we saw a California appellate judge rule that probation conditions assigned to a 15-year-old molester were invalid. The original conditions barred the teen from operating social media accounts, using chat rooms or instant messaging, and even operating a computer outside an academic purpose.
Now, today’s affirmation of internet as a basic human right comes from across the pond. The Guardian (UK) reports that a recent decision sided with a defendant, who claimed that he was being cut off from the world as a result of the ban imposed upon him during sentencing.
Phillip Michael Jackson (I know, right?) was convicted of secretly recording a 14-year-old girl in the shower by hiding his smartphone inside s shampoo bottle. After he was arrested, police found more child pornography on his computer. One of the terms of his sentencing banned him from owning a computer.
The two justices on the appeals court cited the restrictions as invalid, saying that it was “unreasonable nowadays to ban anyone from accessing the internet in their home.” They also called the order “entirely excessive.”
There’s no arguing that the crimes in question are horrendous, but that’s not really the point. What’s being taken into account here is just how ubiquitous the internet has become in everyday society. Does it amount to unreasonable or even cruel punishment to cut a person off like that, no matter their crime?