The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) has been quick to follow up its condemnation of an attempt by Minnesota enforcement officials to censor the Internet through ISP blocks, writing to the Internet Service Providers concerned and advising them that they need not comply with the state's requests.
Minnesota's Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division, headed by John Willems, created a furore earlier this week by asking ISPs to ban a list of over 200 randomly selected online gambling websites domiciled outside the USA.
iMEGA’s letter highlighted the state agency’s error applying a federal law – the Wire Act of 1961 (18 USC 1084) – as the basis for issuing an order to block Minnesota residents from freely accessing the websites, pointing out among other issues that the list included sites that did not accept business from US residents, and some that were no longer even in business.
“Because website operators are not subscribers of yours, have no contracts with you and are not provided facilities by you, you should be aware that the MN DPS is attempting to mislead (either intentionally or inadvertently) you into believing that you are bound by federal law to do what the MN DPS asks,” the letter stated.
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“In fact, [the Wire Act] simply does not apply to the web site operators and imposes no duty upon you and provides no authority to you to comply with the MN DPS request.”
iMEGA sent the letter to the ISPs in hope of persuading them not to block access to the sites by Minnesota residents.
“The DPS has issued this order on erroneous legal ground,” said Joe Brennan Jr., iMEGA chairman. “We hope that the ISPs will disregard the order, and that DPS will reconsider their actions and the far-reaching effects this kind of Internet censorship would have.”
Interested readers can find the full content of the letter here: http://www.imega.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/imega-letter-to-isps.pdf