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23 September 2011

Fears that censorship of the internet will be in the hands of bureaucrats 

In Romania, a new anti-online gambling regulation by the government's Ministry of Finance (823/2011) is creating fears regarding censorship of the Internet.
The requirement is that the body nominated to control internet gambling activity in the Eastern European country will have the power to identify websites that are alleged to be providing unauthorised gambling activities to Romanians, and ensure that these sites are blocked.
This is to be achieved by requiring Internet Service Providers to block Romanian access to any website blacklisted by the monitor in a system that appears to copy Australia's controversial approach to halting internet gambling.
The blocking list will include websites that provide links (in a "marketing, advertising or any promotional activity") to unauthorised gambling.
Decision 823 was promulgated at the end of August 2011, and controversially does not require the monitor or the ISP to inform targeted websites that they have been, or are about to be, blocked as being illegal.
However, critics of the law point out that under the current law on gambling or indeed under any other Romanian legislation, there is no specific obligation for an ISP to comply with orders or requests of the nature envisaged by the government.
Although several human rights NGOs and ISPs have tried to address this fact with the Ministry of Finance, the latter refused to enter into discussions on the subject during the consultation period preceding the promulgation.
The Internet censorship implications of the government's actions may not be confined solely to online gambling, either; reports are surfacing of a new draft law on psychoactive drugs that is being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.
This apparently will see "competent authorities" sending Internet blacklists to the Ministry of Communication, which will issue blocking orders to Romanian ISPs. These will have to be actioned within 12 hours on pain of heavy ISP fines...and there is no provision for judicial oversight on the system.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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