I know very little about British law, so I can't address that. But in America, any unbiased hearing would have to throw out such a penalty.
Contra other claims in this thread, network access is not a human right. That is, you cannot force me to pay for your network connection through taxes. However, indirectly, network access is a necessary enabler to exercise many recognized human rights. For example, much of our interaction with government agencies is now done primarily through the web, so cutting access would have a significant negative impact on ones ability to participate in the democratic process.
The fact that the penalty is overly broad would also come into play. Penalizing a person who happens to live with me, who everyone agrees is innocent, for my personal transgressions, is a problem.
The lack of due process is probably where the rubber would hit the road. Certainly the Courts recognize the State's power to execute some punishments without due process. For example, the Emerson
case upheld the "Lautenberg Amendment", which forever takes away a person's 2nd Amendment rights if he or she has ever been the subject of a restraining order due to domestic violence -- which can occur without any legal finding of guilt. But considering the other factors I mentioned -- its necessity for participation in the democratic process, and the effect on ones family -- I have to think that it would be struck down. However, courts aren't always honest: consider the recent Kelo
decision, or google for "a switch in time saves nine".
People with lots of money are warping laws so they can get more, just plain old capitalism really.
I hate to be political here, but one thing I hate much more is the kind of idea that this represents. I don't claim that what Eóin is observing isn't happening -- it certainly is. But one cannot indict capitalism from it, because it is most certainly contradictory
to capitalism. What we see in society today, where the political powers ally with corporate powers, is more properly called Corporatism
or Corporate Fascism
If one participant is coerced into a deal that he would not want to make (due to regulation, threats, violence, etc.), then the market isn't free and it's not Capitalist. Because so much of our political system has been captured by corporate interests for the purpose of rent seeking
, it's clear that they are in alliance against the people.
In a real capitalist system, a transaction would only be executed if both sides agree to the terms. If your concern is, for example, that the entertainment industry is able to add unconscionable terms to their sales agreements (after the fact, in this case!), then the logical way to fix the problem is to throw out the Corporatist system and go back to real Capitalism. It's nonsensical to give additional regulatory powers to the government when the Corporatist system thrives precisely because of all the regulatory powers we've ceded to the State.
I find it incredibly frustrating that so many condemn capitalism as the problem, when in fact we do not now have a capitalist system -- and if we did, we probably wouldn't have the problem!