A man accused of being a pedofile has been condemned by a judge in my hometown Oudenaarde to "no more internet access". He can no longer have a connection at home, and he can not enter an internet café. What kind of a stupid punishment is that!
Of course the man needs to be punished, but does this sentence actually mean ...
First of all, how is the police ever going to check him not being online. A fixed connection at home, OK that can be traced, but how about a mobile connection? So he can't roam around town with a laptop and pick up a WiFi signal? GPRS-phones are pretty standard these days and the 3G network covers about 95% of the Belgian territory. And how to keep him out of internet cafés worldwide, a tatoo on his forehead maybe?
Then, more importantly, what is "internet"?
So he can't surf the internet, not to download child pornography (obviously) but how about access to an online self help group for the likes of him? And what's up with e-government initiatives or home banking? Can he send and receive e-mail? And can he use Messenger to chat or Skype to talk to friends and family? Can he use Google docs to write a resume so he can get a job. Can he watch digital TV by Telenet or Belgacom which are also IP based systems in some way. And can he send an MMS, which also uses internet technology to send pics from a mobile. Can he use the iTunes store to buy music? Hmmm, can he even make a call to the US, considering that call will most likely go at least partially over IP ...
This sentence comes pretty close to lifetime imprisonment if you ask me. But nobody can ever check whether the door is closed.
It looks like our judges need to learn about what the internet really means today.