New states adopt Internet blocking measures for unwanted online gambling
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Deutsch: Weitere Länder ergreifen Sperrmaßnahmen gegen unerwünschtes Glücks...
As the EU regulation of online gambling is still being discussed, more EU countries try to implement Internet blocking as a valid solution to stop access of its own citizens to locally unauthorized gambling websites.
A hearing on online gambling organized on 6 September 2011 by the European Economic and Social Committee focused on the fact that there was "an appetite for action at EU level". However, "it's up to the College of Commissioners to decide what to put in its communication, which will come out in 2012" as Pamela Brumter-Coret (acting director in DG MARKT) has explained.
While the discussions agreed on a generic EU-wide legislation to govern the online gambling market, it would still be up to the Member States on regulating this domain even further.
In the meantime, with totally different authorisations regimes in EU members states in place, it is up the European Court of Justice to interpret the EU law in this respect. The latest case in a long series of rulings on online gambling was decided on 15 September 2011 and concluded that "a monopoly on the operation of internet casino games is justifiable only if it seeks in a consistent and systematic manner to combat the risks connected with such games".
In the absence of a EU framework on this aspect, some EU countries are using unauthorised gambling as the gateway to impose Internet blocking obligations to ISPs.
In Slovakia, in order to increase the tax collection on gambling, the Ministry of Finance proposed a novelization of communication law that would oblige all ISPs to block the content from a list created by the main tax office, which is a politically nominated office. After strong pressure from the civil society, the Ministry informed the press just that it would ask for the advice the European commission.
In Romania, a new Government Decision (823/2011) initiated by the Ministry of Finance foresees that the Monitoring Operator's (a private 3rd party that would oversee the online gambling market) obligations include identifying the websites that are providing gambling activities unauthorized in Romania and sending this list to the ISPs so that those websites be blocked. The blocking list will include also websites that provide links (in a "marketing, advertising or any promotional activity") to unauthorised gambling.
Decision 823 that entered into force on 31 August 2011 makes no distinction between websites targeting Romanian consumers or not and does not include any requirement of informing these websites as being illegal or asking the hosting company to take the illegal content offline.
However, under the current law on gambling or any other legislation, there is no specific obligation for an ISP to comply with this request. Even though several human rights NGOs and ISPs tried to bring up the issue with the Ministry of Finance, the latter refused even to discuss the subject during the consultation period.
Unfortunately, this is not the only attempt to use legislation to block Internet in Romania. A new draft law on psychoactive drugs that is being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies foresees that the competent authorities might send to the Ministry of Communication a list of websites to be blocked by the ISPs. The latter need to comply within 12 hours from the request, otherwise they face fines between 50 000 - 100 000 RON (11 500 - 23 000 Euro). In this case as well, there is no judicial oversight of these blocking measures.
Commission eyes EU regulation of online gambling (15.09.2011)
Judgment in Case C-347/09 - Criminal proceedings against Jochen Dickinger and Franz Ömer (15.09.2011)
Internet censorship in Slovak republic (15.09.2011)
Romania: Government decision 823/2011 - provisions on blocking (only in
Draft Law on psychoactive substances - provisions on blocking (only in