After being set to be released on bail from a 2-month stay at a Swiss prison, the extradited Roman Polanski has reportedly been banned from poking other users on Facebook. Arrested for a 1976 sex case in L.A., Polanski is fearful of returning to the states. And considering the nature of his alleged crime, certain precautions are being taken towards controlling his actions while free on bail.
Ruled by the Swiss courts, the limitations on Polanski’s online social networking behavior seem bias and unnecessary. But will such measures be taken in future sex cases? In addition to the Facebook poking ban, Polanski is barred from using other Facebook applications, such as “What ‘Facts of Life’ Character Are You?”
While Polanski had been considered to have been receiving special treatment while in the Swiss prison, it seems that he is now being treated in another specialized way. Polanski was able to make calls to his wife while in prison, and was also given access to his cell phone; all standard procedures for extradited prisoners held in the Swiss prison system.
Now Polanski is being limited in another way–in his online networking behavior. Such limitations on popular sites such as Facebook send a message to other prisoners in a position similar to Polanski. They also send a message to other court systems that also need ways in which to curb adverse behavior from offenders.
There are two primary issues that arise from the Polanski ruling; is it fair to limit specific network actions, and is this a method by which court systems can monitor and control other offenders that utilize online social networks?
Whatever various court systems end up deciding, there are additional issues that arise from even considering these methods. Who will determine which networks and which applications on which networks should be banned from use for which type of offenders? With an increasing amount of cooperative initiatives between social networks, applications and wider platforms that bridge mobile and online outlets, it will be difficult to track and manage what can and cannot be used by any given offender.
It’s a tricky topic to tackle, and the infrastructure that would have to go into maintaining such a system could become complicated and costly. Nevertheless, it’s a topic that will have to be considered as several advocacy groups, legal entities and social networks are already working cooperatively to minimize the affect offenders can have via online hubs. The result will likely be tracking mechanisms for certain types of offenders, using cross-device and court-issued services that will be even more difficult to avoid by the offenders themselves.