By EDRi

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Deutsch: [Weitere Länder ergreifen Sperrmaßnahmen gegen unerwünschtes Glücksspiel | http://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_9.18_Weitere_Laender_ergreifen_Sperrmassnahmen_gegen_unerwuenschtes_Gluecksspiel?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20111004]

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)
http://www.euractiv.com/consumers/commission-eyes-eu-regulation-online-gambling-news-507351

Judgment in Case C-347/09 – Criminal proceedings against Jochen Dickinger and Franz Ömer (15.09.2011)
http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2011-09/cp110091en.pdf

Internet censorship in Slovak republic (15.09.2011)
http://opensource.com/government/11/9/internet-censorship-slovak-republic

Romania: Government decision 823/2011 – provisions on blocking (only in
Romanian)
http://www.apti.ro/HG-norme-jocuri-de-noroc

Draft Law on psychoactive substances – provisions on blocking (only in
Romanian)
http://www.apti.ro/PL-combaterea-opera%C5%A3iunilor-cu-produse-susceptibile-de-a-avea-efecte-psihoactive