Slovenian gov blocks gambling sites, censorship charges follow

BoingBoing reader Sila says,

First of all, sorry for my bad English. Here is my blog post about the following, it is in Slovene language, but so far there is no better description of situation over here in Slovenia, except debate in this tech forum: Link. I'll try to translate and summarize the issue here:

Three days ago gambling regulation office of Slovenian Finance Ministry sent a decree to all state ISPs in which they want them to block access to two gambling sites bwin.com, and bet-at-home.com.

First of all - it is beleived that this office does not have the jurisdiciton to do that. The heart of the story is probably the wish to preserve local state lottery monopoly (this is an all EU problem, see this news story ), but what is more important is that so far biggest Slovenian media almost completely ignores the story about blocking the sites.

So far only few Slovenian ISPs have done what government wants, first one of them was T-2 net, an ISP, sponsored with catholic funds, but more is expected to follow soon.

Sila offers background on the story and a more detailed account of what's happening now, after the jump. Bottom line: Sila and others believe the Slovenian government is unfairly censoring these websites for reasons that have more to do with political and financial gain than the official line:

...that it interrupts with basic moral values such as attitude to work, responsibility towards community, solidarity and cooperation.

Sila continues:

During world soccer championship Bwin started huge and successful advertising campaing in Slovenia. Billboards were all over the country and almost all Slovenian media had a Bwin banner on their sites. They are all silent today.

After last parliament elections catholic church made a major breaktrough into Slovene politics - head of our Ministry of Justice for example is a member of Maltese Knight order (he is also beleived to be a member of Opus Dei).

Catholic church in Slovenia already issued a document (slovene only - Link ) in which they completely opposed gambling in the state, saying that it interrupts with basic moral values such as attitude to work, responsibility towards community, solidarity and cooperation.

That is why noone is suprised that T2-net blocked the sites first.

Even deeper background and similar example:

Back in 2003 Slovenia was shaken by so called "udba.net" affair (UDBA = ex-Yugoslav secret police, see Wiki link). One year before national parliament elections huge archive of possible UDBA collaborators (months later it became clear that a huge part of data was false) was published on site www.udba.net. Slovenian government immediately blocked access to site, trying (as they said) to preserve privacy rights. Government oposition (which later won the elections and now rules Slovenia) was then outraged by this censorship, but it now uses same practices. People accessed udba.net via proxies (they are doing same now with Bwin for example) and government saw it made a big mistake.

Those who were then outraged by state censorship are using same methods now. In the age of internet, they are simply blocking access to sites they dislike.

Link