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DNS blocking has "no place” in Dutch iGaming legislation, says SIDN

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 activities.”

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 online traffic.

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.

“Furthermore, our 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 role.”

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.

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