SIDN, the Dutch-based
organisation responsible for managing dot.nl domain registrations, has attacked
proposals to give the country’s gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) the
power to block Dutch players from accessing unlicensed gambling sites.
The organisation notes
that the country’s government has been working on a law to legalise online
gaming for a number of years, and that progress has not been easy.
“A balance has to be
struck between sufficient leniency to allow the provision of attractive
services and sufficient restriction to minimise the risk of users becoming
compulsive gamblers,” SIDN legal and policy advisor Maarten Simon said.
“Furthermore, a lot of established interests are at stake, such as those of
charities that currently generate considerable income from legal gaming
The bill that has been
brought forward proposes giving the KSA the power to take action against
providers based in the Netherlands, websites hosted in the country and websites
that use dot.nl domains, but not against anything taking place in other countries.
As a result the bill
provides for internet traffic to be blocked in an attempt to make illegal
gambling sites unavailable to Dutch customers. Should it obtain judicial
permission, the KSA would be able to order internet service providers such as
KPN, Ziggo and Vodafone to use Domain Name System (DNS) blocking or filtering
This provision has
been set out despite the internet having no borders, Simon said.
“SIDN opposes the
principal of intervention in the working of the internet,” he explained, with
the organisation publishing a paper outlining its position on the issue.
It looks to outline
the dangers and show why site blocking would not be effective against illegal
gambling. Instead it suggest that provisions requiring banks to block illegal
providers’ payment traffic, also included in the bill, will be more effective.
“Over the last year,
SIDN has actively communicated its views on this matter to the political
community,” Simon said. “Other voices from within the internet and telecoms industry,
like DINL, have expressed disquiet at the proposals, as have the Dutch Internet
Society and Bits of Freedom, for example.
objection to the principle of intervention is shared by the Netherlands
Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). In a report published last
year, the WRR urged the Netherlands to take a pioneering role in protecting the
public core of the internet. The new bill is fundamentally at odds with such a
Simon also noted that
the liberal-democratic D66 party had proposed an amendment to remove the
provisions for filtering and blocking of internet traffic.
“It is our hope that
the amendment wins general support. Parliament is expected to vote on the bill
in the near future," he said.