Feeds

Court strikes down Facebook probation

Social network ban violates First Amendment

Seven Steps to Software Security

A California appeals court has struck down as unconstitutional probation conditions that barred a 15-year-old convicted of possessing a stolen motorcycle from using a computer or the internet for any purpose other than school-related assignments.

Last week's decision from California's Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District came in the case of a defendant identified only as J.J., who was convicted of receiving a stolen Honda 50cc off-road motorcycle. In addition to being required to complete a drug treatment program, the 15-year-old was ordered to delete any existing MySpace or Facebook pages, prohibited from using any instant messaging program and barred from using a computer for any purpose other than school-related assignment.

The three-judge panel noted that juvenile courts have greater latitude in formulating the terms of minors' probation than courts overseeing adult probationers. Even so, they said constitutional guarantees require terms imposed on minors to be closely tailored to the offense for which they are convicted.

The prohibition against all non-school-related use of computers “is not tailored to J.J.'s conviction for receiving stolen property, his history of drug abuse, or the juvenile court's dual goals of rehabilitation and public safety,” the decision states. “And absent any connection between J.J.'s criminal history and the blanket internet ban, there is no support for the People’s claim that it is properly related to future criminality. Accordingly, we strike the condition as unconstitutionally overbroad.”

The judges went on to strike down the terms barring the use of instant messaging for similar reasons. “There is nothing in the undisputed record to suggest J.J. Used instant messaging or social networking sites to obtain the stolen motorcycle or drugs,” they wrote.

They also vacated an order that said “Minor shall not use a computer that contains any encryption, hacking, cracking, scanning, keystroke monitoring, security testing, steganography, trojan or virus software.” The reason: It is difficult or impossible to know when many trojans and viruses have struck.

“We conclude the condition is unconstitutionally vague because it subjects J.J. to sanctions for violation of probation in circumstances where he could only guess whether the computer he was using contains the prohibited software,” they wrote. “Thus, it is possible that J.J.'s unwitting, technical violation of the probation condition could subject him to penalties at the discretion of his probation office or the court. The ability to selectively punish for innocent action based on a vague condition impermissibly opens the door to arbitrary enforcement in violation of due process rights.” ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.