Do privacy and the open Internet cause gambling debt in Sweden?

By EDRi · March 9, 2016

In the middle of January, a mid-sized Swedish Internet Service Provider (ISP) called attention to access blocking proposals made by a Swedish government committee on gambling regulation.

The gambling committee was created to deal with recent legal challenges by the European Commission to Swedish gambling legislation. Access blocking is one of several measures to prevent the availability of illegal gambling offers online raised by the Swedish government in the context of the new committee.

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While access blocking as a remedial measure to unlawful online gambling failed to gain public and private support in 2008, the new committee is apparently ready to raise the issue again. European Commission reports on online gambling do not support access blocking as a regulatory measure for the member states, and instead recommend looking into payment service blocking. Indeed, a leaked draft Communication from the European Commission described blocking as „technically challenging and costly“ in 2011. The documents prepared by the government when setting up the committee seem to support this problematic.

Swedish EDRi member DFRI presented its opinions to the committee on 10 February. DFRI raised two points with the committee. First, that access blocking is an inefficient way of dealing with illegitimate activities in online environments. Secondly, DFRI also raised a data protection issue: while the committee had been asked to investigate the need for exceptions to data protection laws for gambling companies, in order to ensure responsible measures against gambling, DFRI points to the need of engaging with activities for responsible gambling in compliance with data protection laws.

Proper definitions of corporate responsibility would already ensure that data protection principles and rules can be applied as they are. It is an over-arching tendency in the work of the Swedish government to focus on exceptions from the baseline protections of human rights, rather than considering how its policies can be enacted inside the framework of human rights. This is a field in which DFRI will continue to inform and monitor the work of the government.

The committee will present its conclusions to the government in spring 2017. Hopefully by then it will have incorporated digital rights considerations in its proposals. DFRI will continue to monitor the issue in Sweden as it progresses through the legislative process.

European Commission leak

Link to Dir. 2015:95

Link to SOU 2008:124

Link to DFRI submission

(Contribution by Patrik Wallström, DFRI)