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Is this the beginning of Internet censorship ? January 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.

There has been a lot of controversy across the pond lately about the whole issue of online betting and gambling in general. The Yanks were never ones for legalised betting to begin with and have always had quite strict betting laws. However, these laws are now beginning to become enforced (if that’s the right word) on that bastion of freedom of expression – the Internet.

I’m partial to laying a small few bob on the odd football match or what not, but wouldn’t know one end of a bookies’ shop from another. I feel safer in the online environment where no bet-up ould fella looks crossways at you because you don’t know “the code” for a Yankee or a treble backways super-cross multi-line odds against sure thing !

Given many people’s tendency to bet online and seeing the huge growth in online poker, gambling and betting sites (and their advertising and TV coverage), it’s interesting to see that the biggest online poker site on the web has pulled out of the US market with immediate effect. PartyPoker.com has quit the US because of a law called the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” recently passed by the US congress. And they aren’t the only ones. Huge online betting company Pinnacle Sports last week informed its American customers (over two-thirds of its business !) that it could no longer take wagers on horses, sports and whatever your having yourself …

My question is this … Is the Internet now becoming so regulated by the countries in which it is viewed and used (in this case, the USA), that the governments of that country decide what the people who use it – in a virtual sense – can and cannot do. I mean, there is a law in America that says bomb making is wrong but people still access information on the web about that … why not let people gamble online if they want to ? What’s to stop someone from American signing up to a gambling site in Taiwan and betting from there ?

Will it ever get to the stage where the governments of countries will start banning all sites about everything they don’t agree with, don’t want people to see or perceive to be “bad” for the people ? It’s happening in China already. But what if, in a couple of years, you try to log on to a website about global warming or Kyoto and you happen to live in New York or somewhere that has drastically contributed to such a problem … will the site be banned ? The same could be said for gay rights or immigration issues or “The War of on Terror” or a whole host of things …

Internet censorship – is it the next online crisis ?

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1. kav - January 19, 2007

The companies are just adhering to the law as laid down in that country though, aren’t they? If gambling was made illegal in Ireland, Paddy Power would need to shut all of his down. I don’t think it means greater censorship on a wider scale though.

You’re right that anyone can search the internet for anything, but (in America at least) the FBI can already supposedly use the Patriot Act to monitor anyone’s internet usage, so they’d probably get a few red flags if someone was searching for bomb-making equipment.

I’m more bothered about the internet being broken up than by the censorship issues. It would be a pain in the arse to have several internets to surf every time you wanted some info.

2. Rambling Man - January 19, 2007

good point about the breaking up of the net kav – i’m just bothered by the fact that governments can decide that they don’t want people looking at certain things and internet companies follow suit e.g. google in china.

3. online Poker gamer - February 6, 2008

I realy feel for the gamblers in the US. I cant beleive your Congress banned all banks and credit card companies from accepting transactions from online gambling sites which makes you unable to play online poker. What a bunch of hypocrites your state government are. They have the largest gambling operations with lotto, keno, etc. If they truly believed their rhetoric about internet gambling they would cut out the state operations also. And now they are bringing in a law to legalise slot machines. Personally I would have a big grudge against any party that stopped me from playing online
poker. I think there must be some way for you guys to get around this problem. Must make you wonder if you are living in the land of the free when it seems the government has full control on what it will and wont let you do.

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