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Slovakia: New Draft Law Threatens Internet Freedom

The Slovak Ministry of Finance has published a draft law [sk] that would allow blocking web servers that provide online gambling without a Slovak license. Internet providers would have to block web sites from a list updated twice a month – not by the court, but by the Tax Office.

Against this idea are, among others, the non-governmental Society for Open Information Technologies (SOIT) [sk] and the Slovak IT Association [sk]. SOIT warns that this way Facebook should also be blocked completely, because it allows users to play online roulette and poker.

According to SOIT consumer protection, crime prevention or reduction of tax burden are not sufficient arguments for establishing of Internet censorship: “We believe that the promotion of purely economic interests at the expense of personal freedoms of citizens is particularly dangerous and unconstitutional.”

Their online petition [sk] has been signed by thousands of citizens. Later, the Ministry of Finance asked [sk] the European Commission for their opinion.

Below are some comments from a discussion at SME.sk.

mrf:

this should be … immediately taken to the Constitutional Court … because if it starts, [...] we will end up with just the [web] pages of the Ministry of Finance :-(

Blur(rr)e(d) vision:

This whole idea is sick. What if I earn money and go to Las Vegas and spend it all there? Will the Minister prevent me from doing this?

yep, me again:

when we start blocking some selected entrepreneurs and companies … that are based in the EU, then we say that we want to be in the free-trade club only if it is useful to us … and that is already not free trade.

Marty:

Just as I can order goods from a German e-shop, or let a licensed German architect design my house, I can freely bet through a British online casino.

Peter Šoltés:

If the Minister was serious in that he wants to increase the intake into the state budget, he would first eliminate Tipos [a 100% state-owned company] monopoly on online poker and online casino.

kohutisko:

And next they will block Amazon, because a local company has higher prices, and we will search using Zoznam.sk only because Google will be blocked too. Not to mention the fact that Wikipedia will be blocked in all language versions because of our cobweb-filled libraries!

Vilsa:

we will start with gambling and end up like in China … because the state will not release its claws when it can extend its scope and power.

risiak:

And speaking of morality, does he think that the same services, just provided by Slovak companies, will be moral?

refuge:

What's interesting is that they never propose to proceed in the opposite direction – somewhere else they have better conditions, so let's change the conditions in our country.

corr:

A typical political solution – hardly feasible, its effectiveness is problematic and it probably also violates international treaties … So it seems the problem will stay unsolved … but it will trigger other, more serious problems. This approach – “we do not know how to tax it, so we will disable it” – is incredible and shows that the author of this solution has a problem with elementary understanding of how the world behaves in the 21st century.

salam00n:

I would like to hear/read the Minister's opinion on how a person threatens public morality when he is playing PC online gambling game at home?

Pomaranc77:

disable something on the Internet? lol :-)))

MaRmAR:

Mr. Minister, please concern yourself with the real problems and needs of Slovakia and its people. Leave such nonsense to others who understand that blocking or censoring the internet is virtually impossible (if you do not want to be a second China) and incorrect, if not unconstitutional.

nieze:

We all are stupid, incapable of thinking for ourselves, making decisions and acting independently. Therefore, we need clever, omnipotent, the most beautiful, the best, infallible politicians who will tell us that when we put our hand into the fire it will burn, because we stupid idiots can't figure it out by ourselves.

pavuk29:

What nonsense. Do they want to draw boundaries on the net?

Thumbnail image of Slovakian flag by Flickr user HatM (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

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