A court in Israel has ruled that Police have no authority to order internet service providers (ISPs) to block online gambling industry sites. Police in the country first issued the order back in June 2011 before the Israel Internet Association (ISOC) took out a lawsuit after stressing that it amounts to blocking access to information.
“By blocking the gambling sites, the freedom of Israelis to access information was damaged, since they could not access the site to get the information stored there,” said Michal Rubinstein, the Tel Aviv district judge in charge of the case.
According to the Times of Israel, Rubinstein’s verdict had focused on three specific points brought up by ISOC. One was whether “limiting access to Internet sites interfered with freedom to access information”. Second was if “current law allowed police to impose a ban on virtual gaming sites (as they would on a physical casino)”. Lastly “whether ISOC was eligible to request in the name of Israeli Internet users that the order be rescinded”.
ISOC were “very pleased” with the ruling and Rimon Levy, member of the board of directors, admitted: “Our aim is to prevent restriction of access to information and undue damage to freedom of expression and speech. Our petition was not directed at encouraging online gambling, but to prevent the police from imposing limits on access to information.”
Levy also added that had the Police gone after the owners of the sites themselves, they would have no problem with it and added that the Police taking the jobs of “investigator, prosecutor and judge” was “simply chilling”.
Unfortunately there are still a number of different countries, especially in Europe, that think IP blocking is the way to regulate the market and keep it “ring-fenced”. Countries such as France have encouraged ISPs to block certain sites and seen mixed results as the country’s market continues to falter. The latest to announce they’d be blocking sites were Bulgaria and Serbia. The latter’s gaming industry association admitted that it wasn’t the best course of action as it “does not yield many results”. At the same time it sends out a message to legitimate businesses. There are much better ways to go about restricting unregulated sites and somewhere like the U.K. has gotten by okay without having to block IPs.