A recent decision made by the Vilnius regional court sees Lithuania being added to the growing list of EU countries that are ordering local internet service providers (ISPs) to censor the internet. A local agency known as the ISA has issued orders to Lithuanian ISPs demanding that they implement blocks to prevent users from gambling at unlicensed online gambling sites in Lithuania.
Lithuanian ISPs Teo and Bite are calling the filtration methods they are being required to use “inefficient”, arguing that the only way to truly prevent players from accessing internet gambling sites is to disconnect their internet connections completely.
The ISA’s proposed method of censoring the internet of unwanted internet gambling in Lithuania involves routing local internet users to local IP addresses by ISP DNS servers, and denying the IPs of foreign online gambling sites using ISP routers. Teo and Bite, however, argue that the method is far from foolproof, and that users can easily bypass the system. Bite has appealed to the Vilnius regional court requesting further information about what is expected of them.
Similar demands are being made of internet service providers in other European countries, including France, Bulgaria, Sweden, Holland, and Israel. The same technical arguments are being made by ISPs in all countries. They insist that filtering the internet in this way is a technological nightmare, and that there is simply no way to do it properly.
Moreover, many ISPs feel that filtering the internet in this way is inappropriate. Yves Le Mouël, head of the French telecoms federation, put it very succinctly: “We are like the postal service, we do not open the mail.”
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been upholding government gambling monopolies in some EU countries on the grounds that they can help promote responsible gambling, but the court has yet to rule on the practice of censoring the internet.