Swiss Action Groups Want A National Referendum On New Gambling Law (Update)

Deep concerns regarding provisions for ISP blocking

Swiss moves to legalise online gambling but make it the exclusive preserve of existing land operators in the country (see previous InfoPowa reports) could face the possibility of scrutiny through a national referendum, according to local media reports.

The new law passed late last year has provisions for the imposition of ISP blocking on operators who are not authorised to access Swiss punters (ie anyone competing with the local casinos).

It has triggered a strong reaction from civil society, internet freedom groups and ISPs concerned at the prospect of “digital isolation,” and the danger that government controls and bans have a tendency to escalate to other sectors and smack of censorship.

To bring about a national referendum on a particular subject in Switzerland, citizens must assemble a petition supported by at least 50,000 government-certified voters within 100 days of the law in question passing.

Local media reports indicate that various groups, including political parties and the Swiss chapter of the Internet Society, have been canvassing support and already have 65,000 signatures, over a third of which have already been government-certified.

The deadline for reaching the certified 50,000 number is January 18.