French ISPs explain why blocking is wrong

By EDRi · March 23, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Französische ISPs erklären was an Netzsperren falsch ist |]

The French ISPs are being brought to court by ARJEL (the French online
gambling regulation authority) in its attempt to obtain the blocking of
access to the foreign online betting site 5Dimes.

On 17 March 2011, the court heard seven French ISPs – Orange, SFR,
Numericable, Free, Bouygues Telecom, Darty Telecom and Auchan Telecom – who
resisted Arjel’s request to block the online gambling site.

Arjel was created in 2010 and given the authority to require ISPs to
block access to online betting sites alleged infringements of various
regulatory and fiscal obligations. However, ISPs are reluctant to answer
the authority’s request to block 5Dimes, arguing that blocking measures are
inefficient. Furthermore, ISPs do not wish to create a dangerous precedent
by blocking a site only at the request of Arjel without a judge’s decision.

5Dimes, as well as its hosting company, Costa-Rica based Instituto
Costarricense de Electricidad y Telecom (ICE), have only recently
answered the requests of the authority to apply technical measures to
block access to French users.

During the hearing at the High Court, the operators criticised Arjel’s
system and pointed out the inefficiency of the measures by giving the
example of Aaargh site which, “continues to be accessible under 12 or 13
addresses”, although in 2005, the High Court of Paris ordered its blocking,
a ruling supported in appeal by the decision of the Cassation Court.

The ISPs also complained about the extremely high penalty requested by Arjel
for non-compliance to its requests – 100 000 Euro/day. In their opinion, the
authority should first act against the ICE that hosts 5Dimes. For Arjel
however, website blocking at the level of ISPs is the easier solution in the
case of a site hosted outside the country.

Indeed, the ICE announced a day before the ISPs hearing, that, in order to
block access to 5Dimes for French users, it would need a decision from a
French court.

ISPs criticize the efficiency of the blocking of online betting sites (only
in French, 18.03.2011)

Online betting: the operators resists the blocking requests (only in French,

The Telecom operators rearing against the filtering of the illegal sports
betting sites (only in French, 17.03.2011)