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Internet ban for life overturned by appeals court

Just how far can a court go in punishing child sex offenders? A US District Court in Pennsylvania had dealt with Daniel Voelke - a 35-year-old Pennsylvania resident who was charged with possessing child and sexual exploitation of a minor after briefly exposing the naked rear end of his 3-year-old daughter over a webcam - by sentencing him to 6 years in prison.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on

Just how far can a court go in punishing child sex offenders? A US District Court in Pennsylvania had dealt with Daniel Voelke - a 35-year-old Pennsylvania resident who was charged with possessing child and sexual exploitation of a minor after briefly exposing the naked rear end of his 3-year-old daughter over a webcam - by sentencing him to 6 years in prison. But then the judge went a little further. He banned Voelke for life from using any computer network.

The district court included this condition: "The defendant is prohibited from accessing any computer equipment or any 'online' computer service at any location, including employment or education. This includes, but is not limited to, any Internet service provider, bulletin board system, or any other public or private computer network."

But a panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled recently that ban was unconstitutional, News.com reports.

Given the extraordinary breadth of this condition and the absence of any explanation, we are at a loss to understand how the district court could have considered the factors... and concluded that this condition is narrowly tailored to impose no greater restriction than necessary.

The condition is the antithesis of a "narrowly tailored" sanction. The lifetime ban on all computer equipment and the Internet is the functional equivalent of prohibiting a defendant who pleads guilty to possession of magazines containing child pornography from ever possessing any books or magazines of any type during the remainder of his/her life.

The 3rd Circuit judges threw out the conditions of supervised release and sent the case back to Judge Alan Bloch for new terms.

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