OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada says judges can ban convicted sexual predators from using the Internet.
The issue arose in 2009 in the case of a BC man who pleaded guilty in an incest and child pornography case involving a victim under the age of 16.
There is a court-ordered publication ban on information identifying the victim.
The trial judge originally banned the man for seven years from using a computer to communicate with children under 16, but at the time there was no specific Criminal Code provision that explicitly banned Internet use.
After the man was convicted, the Conservative government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which did create a such a penalty.
On the man’s appeal, the BC Court of Appeal used the 2012 law to impose a broad Internet ban and the high court today upheld the retroactive application.
“This idea that there are some consequences of crime that are punishment and some consequences of crime that are protection of the public… that dichotomous view really doesn’t make sense. Consequences of crime can be both,” says lawyer Laura Track with the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Track points to the sex offender registry as an example of something that is not technically considered a punishment, but more of a way to keep everyone safe.