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With the way technology progresses, it is sensible to update laws and punishments to accommodate the situation. For instance, when someone is legally prohibited from communicating with another person: years ago, the stipulations regarded talking on the phone, and physically being near the person. Today, the stipulations include e-mail, texting, and any other form of communication available because that is the world we live in today. With that being said, is it reasonable to prohibit someone from using social media once they have been accused of a crime?

In 2017, a man known as the “Canada Creep” was arrested for posting inappropriate photos on Twitter of unknowing women. He was found with hundreds of thousands of videos and pictures of women and young girls, all contained on computers and hard drives within his home. None of the pictures and videos in question were taken with consent. Before being released, he was officially banned from all social media, among other stipulations.

A teenage boy from Nova Scotia was also banned from social media following charges brought on by police in 2014. He pleaded guilty to a myriad of charges, including harassment and using threats. The judge ordered the teen to delete any social accounts he had for a time period of 21 months. He was also not to make any social accounts under different names, and had to give all of his passwords to a sentencing supervisor for monitoring.

In the U.S., it has been argued that banning someone from social accounts actually hinders that person’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. According to the judge in a case involving banning someone from using the Internet altogether, the Internet has become the main source of people expressing their opinions; taking away the ability to use the Internet as a whole is essentially taking away the right to speak freely. Human rights should be protected on the Internet just as they are in real life. Banning someone from talking to certain people or from certain websites is more reasonable than using a blanket ban.

Those who agree with this type of ban counter such arguments by referencing self control, or lack thereof. Perhaps just being on the Internet makes it so tempting for the one charged with a crime that they cannot control themselves; eventually, they will somehow contact someone they are prohibited from contacting, or bring on more charges of harassment. There are plenty of repeat offenders that bring some truth to this claim, but should every situation be treated the same? If a teenager verbally threatens someone via Facebook, should that teenager face the same blanket bans that an adult sex offender does?

Considering the cases mentioned above, it may behoove Canadian officials to reconsider some of the orders they have written; bans that are so broad are warranted in some cases. In others, however, it may not be appropriate. The teen accused of threatening someone on Facebook should be prohibited from contacting that person in any way, rather than banning the teen from all of their accounts across the Internet as a whole, as a sex offender would be.

What do you think? Are such broad bans reasonable in all cases? Contact Julian van der Walle today to find out how we can help you.

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