Monday, January 25, 2016 : SWEDES MULL I.S.P. BLOCKING ON GAMBLING WEBSITES?
Service provider exposes early moves to start censoring the internet.
A Swedish Internet Service Provider has revealed the contents of an email indicating that the Swedish government is considering lowering the boom on unlicensed online gambling websites by imposing ISP blocks.
Jon Karlung, the chief executive of ISP firm Bahnhof, says he received the email from an investigator who claimed that he had been contracted by the government to investigate the implications of online gambling regulation, including methods of enforcing such a regime.
The Register newspaper reports that the possibility of such an internet censorship move by the government has shocked many Swedes, along with the broader internet community, where traditionally the Swedish government and judiciary has always been an opponent of internet filtering or blocking.
The Register gives examples of Sweden’s historical protection of the internet, pointing to a Stockholm court that recently refused to order one of the country's ISPs to block access to copyright infringing website The Pirate Bay on grounds that such an action could not be permitted under Swedish law.
Despite this, the current Swedish government has repeatedly signalled that it is prepared to break with the traditional policy – a typical example being its so far unsuccessful attempts to reverse the Pirate Bay judicial decision.
Another example is a government attempt to pass a law compelling ISPs to record the IP addresses of users in an initiative designed to expose illegal file sharers.
That was also struck down by the courts, but the government found a way around the obstacle in 2014, prompting Bahnhof to offer users a free VPN service to stymie the government requirement.
There is speculation in Sweden that the government's reasoning may be that a law blocking illegal gambling sites could present a more palatable approach to internet filtering than, say a copyright infringement target, but defenders of the internet point out that one ban can quickly be expanded to another – all to the detriment of Internet neutrality.
Bahnhof's feisty chief executive makes the point that his company is not taking sides on gambling or any other issue, but is concerned about interference with Net Neutrality, and wishes to warn the public about government moves that could lead to internet filtering.