Another Appeals Court OKs Internet Ban for CP Defendant

Rhett Pardon
WASHINGTON — Another federal appeals court has decided that an Internet ban is appropriate for defendants who possess or distribute child porn.

Last week’s ruling in U.S. vs. Love at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., joins an emerging consensus among the circuits that a complete ban is necessary. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th Circuits previously have issued the same conditions for perpetrators.

Allen G. Love pled guilty to transporting or shipping material involving child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(1) and 2256 (2006). On appeal, he challenges the district court's application of a sentencing enhancement, as well as some of the conditions of his supervised release.

But Love argued that the condition was overbroad in light of the widespread use, presence and need for the Internet in everyday life. His attorney, federal public defender Beverly Dyer, urged a more tailored condition that would ban only electronic communication involving prohibited sexual material, or, alternatively, would require the Probation Office to monitor his Internet use remotely.

But the court, in an opinion written by Judge Thomas Griffith, said the condition in this case was “eminently reasonable” and that the Internet ban was properly tailored to Love’s offense and background. Love not only distributed child pornography, said the court, but he also solicited sex with an undercover officer’s fictitious daughter.

“Consensus is emerging among our sister circuits that Internet bans, while perhaps unreasonably broad for defendants who possess or distribute child pornography, may be appropriate for those who use the Internet to ‘initiate or facilitate the victimization of children,’” Griffith wrote. “The distinction is grounded in the simple proposition that when a defendant has used the Internet to solicit sex with minors, `the hazard presented by recidivism’ is greater than when the defendant has traded child pornography.”

The panel noted the federal Probation Office will have discretion to tailor the prohibition to the technology in use when Love gets out of prison. Love received a sentence of sentence of 188 months’ imprisonment, followed by supervised release for life.

Joan Irvine, ASACP’s CEO, told XBIZ that children "need to be educated and monitored to insure they understand the dangers of predators online and know how to deal with the situation if they are approached."

She also said that long before the Internet, child predators continued to find ways to victimize children and that many companies have systems in place to guard against child porn distribution.

“Perhaps the Internet has made that easier, but MySpace and other social networks already have procedures in place to ban child predators,” she said. “The key to online child protection is making sure parents take an active role in their children’s Internet experiences.”

The case is U.S. vs. Love, No. 07-3140.