Parole, Probation Is URL Blocking by Legal?



I want to begin this question by disclaiming that issues of computer restrictions are highly jurisdictional and this question pertains specifically to people under federal supervision in the 9th. Circuit. I recently stumbled on the default URL block list used by Internet Probation and Parole Control. After evaluating the list I do not believe that it is legal in my case because I am not prohibited from visiting any type of website or using any type of computer software, yet I am subject to URL blocking that can be expanded to include anything my P.O. adds to their list.

For making a threatening communication in interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(c) I have a condition that reads "defendant shall participate in the U.S. Probation Office's computer monitoring program, which may include installation of software or hardware on the defendant's computer that allows random or periodic monitoring of defendant's computer use." As a result I consented to the installation of IPPC Impulse Control. Notice how my conditions do not prohibit me from viewing any specific website or using any specific program, yet I found a block list that includes articles by Microsoft, antivirus programs from Webroot, and Bing Videos among other things. I believe that blocking my access to such sites constitutes an unauthorized sentencing enhancement that is not reasonably related to the offense of conviction.

Case law on computer restrictions in the 9th. Circuit frowns on overly broad restrictions on content one may view on their computer. See U.S. v. Riley (576 F.3d 1046) in which a blanket prohibition on viewing any web page relevant to kids had to be replaced with one against kiddie porn. So, I do not believe that this would be legal if imposed as an actual release condition due to the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 3583(d) and 3553. It seems the government is using the software company as an end run to restrict usage without having to go to court. I've also noticed their app shutting down my Tor Browser, which is not related to my offense at all.

Furthermore the software crippled my computer so badly that I had to get a new one. When objecting to putting IPPC on the new one U.S. Probation said "risk damaging your computer or disconnect it from the internet." I interpret my conditions as only requiring that I permit the installation of monitoring software or hardware, not that I must disconnect the computer if monitoring is not installed. I believe it is their responsibility to provide monitoring solutions that are compatible with my computer and not my responsibility to only use computers that are already configured with their monitoring tools.
Oh well. The conditions of your probation are what has to be followed, no matter your personal feelings/thoughts/ideas. And "...The software crippled my computer so badly that I had to get a new one", I'm throwing the flag and calling BS; I work with PCs, have for years and know that what you've written is not true. I bet the repair/salesperson saw you coming miles down the road.

The monitoring program is what it is. Either let them install it on the new PC or unplug from the Internet. Those are your choices.
I didn't think I'd have the problem with the new PC either. I used to work at a company that had monitoring software and I would not have known it had I not tried to visit Twitter and got blocked. Then after trying to give my old computer a new CPU it black screened, so I though maybe the machine was the issue.and bought a new one. I have screenshots of their process taking up 50% of the CPU resources on a A12 quad core running @3.8 ghz with 16gb of RAM. It makes no sense except for threads like this WINDOWS 7 64BIT BSOD, can anyone check my mini dump file and the fact that the IPPC software on my computer predates Windows 10 Anniversary Update, so the patch talked about on that forum, that was released in September is not being used in their current version.

Then there is the other part of it where the probation office was basically forced to let me use computers, long story, but the motive for prosecuting me was as a means around the first amendment for other things. I could totally see them screwing with the monitor to screw with me, but unless I can prove it, I wont go as far as actually accusing them.

The legal question though was whether or not using management software in ways that exceed monitoring is legal. It looks like IPPC has default block lists, one of which I've seen. None of the stuff they block are things I am not legally allowed to read. It is like telling someone they can go to the library, but they can't read certain books.
Also, I knew about the blocking features for URLs and apps before agreeing to use IPPC, but I figured I'd wait and see if they were used on me before objecting. I'm only required to let them monitor my activities, not manage them. I can't help but think that a true monitoring program would be less likely to have problems with the computer. Something that just records keystrokes and takes screenshots does not have to nearly had ingrained in the system as one that controls what apps you can use and sites you can visit.

My P.O. did seem to partially blame my web activity at first for the problems. He was like "well you spend a lot of time on the computer." I thought he might have been implying that the software had to limit my activities in order to record them, which is not acceptable to me. I already know that they probable programmed their stuff to blue screen if it crashes and admitted that in some cases it can lock computers if any of their stuff is removed. This leads to a theory I have that they will limit ones ability to use a computer if their program lags behind at all, so the slower their program gets, the more it limits the rest of the system, and then you end up with a slothlike system, but I am not a computer expert, so I can't prove that either. I do know that the more you use a computer with IPPC on it, the slower it gets.