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The obligation not communicate, during house arrest, with third parties other than co-habiting members of the family also extends to not communicating on Facebook. The use of internet is not, however, unlawful when it merely has the purpose of acquiring information.

The Italian Supreme Court gave the aforementioned ruling in judgment no. 4064 handed down on January 31, 2012.

In the aforementioned ruling, the Court of Lecce had ordered, pursuant to article 310 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure (c.p.p.) that the defendant’s house arrest be converted into a temporary custodial measure after the Court had ascertained that the former had breached the obligation not to communicate with third parties other than co-habiting members of the family or other persons assisting the latter.

The Court issued such order because the defendant had been caught communicating on the aforementioned social network with a co-defendant.

The defendant’s lawyer filed a motion with the Italian Supreme Court claiming that the obligation not to communicate with third parties did not automatically include the use of long-distance communications.

The Court, however, held the lawyer’s motion to be wholly inadmissible, recalling a previous judgment handed down in 2010 (Italian Supreme Court judgment no. 37151/2010), in which the Court held that the generic obligation not to communicate with persons other than co-habiting members of the family provided for under article 276, paragraph 1 c.p.p. meant not only that the defendant could not speak with persons other than co-habiting members of the family, but also that the latter could not – even in the absence of detailed and specific provisions governing such matter- communicate orally or in writing over the Internet with third parties.

The Supreme Court held, in any event, that article 276 c.p.p. did not prohibit tout court use of the internet insofar as the latter was to be considered a lawful use thereof to the extent that it was used for the purpose of acquiring information or for purposes of research.

The Supreme Court held, moreover, that the prohibition on communicating with third parties included communications over the internet and, in particular, through social networks.

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