03/18/2012 : BULGARIAN ANTI-INTERNET GAMBLING ACTION CRITICISED
Internet freedom groups protest intention to block illegal internet gambling website
Internet freedom activists have been quick to protest the recent passage of a Bulgarian law authorising the blocking of unlicensed online gambling websites, according to reports in the publication Novinite
The protesters have asked the newly inaugurated Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, to veto the recent Gambling Act and send it back to the eastern European country's parliament.
Last Thursday parliament mandated internet providers to ban access to sites that offer unlicensed online gambling.
In an open letter to Plevneliev, the civic initiative "No to ACTA and Internet Control," "Internet Society Bulgaria," and the "Association of Independent Internet Providers," requested that the president exercise his veto, saying that this would allow a larger and deeper debate on alternatives that do not violate citizens' rights.
The protesters quoted data from Reporters without Borders on internet freedom, which show that an increasing number of countries are tempted to censor and limit access to internet sites against the freedom of the Internet and the rights of citizens.
The activists claim that filtering internet traffic is an extremely dangerous precedent because instead of prevention and prosecution of the owners of unlicensed gambling sites that violate the law, the authorities will punish consumers by limiting their access to Internet sites.
"Global experience shows that the appetite of governments to control [the] internet is not going down; to the contrary – it is on the rise," the organisations said in their submission. "Tomorrow, those who want to control internet for the "right content" can decide to limit access to Facebook and Twitter."
Internet censorship is expensive but ineffective, and could lead to users having to pay higher prices for internet access because providers, forced by the State to install filtering systems, would transfer their expenses to the customer, the activists contend.