As of Tuesday, August 17, Israeli internet service provider 012 Smile began censoring the internet, preventing subscribers from accessing all the major online gambling sites in Israel. The filter has been put in place as a response to an injunction issued by Police Central District Commander back in early July, insisting that all Israeli ISPs block access to “places hosting illegal games, including gambling websites.”
The Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority and the State Prosecutor’s Office are all involved in the net censorship plan. The plan was formulated after representatives from the Justice Ministry and State Prosecutor’s Office came to the decision that a clause in Israeli gambling laws which gives authorities the responsibility to close down “places for banned games: applies not just to land-based gambling halls but to gambling places on the internet as well.
The primary target of the censorship is the Victor Chandler gambling site VC Bet, one of the few major internet casinos and online sportsbooks in Israel that offer services in Hebrew. Many other online gambling sites are also being targeted by the plan; the exact number of blocked websites is unknown.
While 012 Smile is the first Israeli ISP to implement the blocks, other major internet service providers in the country will also follow suit. Any companies which continue to allow their customers to access banned sites may face fines.
According to Israeli Police, this is only the beginning. “Enforcement agencies do not view the blocked access as the end of the story, but rather part of the ongoing battle against this widespread phenomenon, and more sites may be blocked in the future.”