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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/25/22

Why Is It You Can Host Terrorist Attacks & Drug Sales On the Web, But Not At Your Home?

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It's past time to update the "castle doctrine" for the internet

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There are castles on the Internet, and the rules they live under are quite different from those of your home or your business.

In this age of "Stand Your Ground" laws, and after the murder a decade ago last month of Trayvon Martin by a racist invoking them, most Americans are familiar with the concept of the "Castle Doctrine."

Sir Edward Coke, in The Institutes of the Laws of England, laid it out in 1628: "For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]." In that Latin phrase, he was citing a law ratified in 1275 by England's King Edward III.

For almost a thousands years, first British common law and today American constitutional law - and the laws of most nations around the world - have applied this simple concept, that you have a right to defend your home just as a castle can defend a royal family.

And while most people know explicitly about the protection offered by the Castle Doctrine in its various forms at law, most also know - although they rarely connect the two - the other face of that idea:

Not only is your home your refuge, but you are also responsible for what happens in it.

This is not particularly controversial. Consider this thought experiment:

Friday night your neighbor puts a sign out in front of his house saying, "Big Party Tonight! No Rules! Everybody Welcome!"

By 2 a.m. the whole house has filled up with criminals doing their thing: somebody's selling child porn in the kitchen, one bedroom has turned into a shooting gallery filled with addicts, while a heroin dealer has taken up residence in the living room. There's a knife fight going on in the backyard.

When the police show up they'll not only bust the reprobates; they'll also haul off your neighbor. After all, it was his home and he knew that criminal activity was going on inside it.

Like I said, that's not particularly controversial; it's been an aspect of the doctrine and laws around it since at least 1275 and probably for millennia before.

The same is true of businesses. If the manager of your local Home Depot, for example, decided to open the large spaces inside the store to criminal activity she would go to jail along with the criminals themselves.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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