The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has approved the controversial provisions of the new gambling act that call for blocking of unregulated online gambling operators through ISPs, ruling that the provisions were not against the law or the constitution, local news outlets report.
According to the new gambling act, which went in effect this January 1st, 2017, any operator who wants to provide services to Czech players has to apply for a local license. But the licensing framework has been unattractive for international operators and the tax regime stiff, forcing big international names like Will Hill to withdraw and leaving domestic operators as the only options available to Czech players.
Since the government announced the act, the IPS-blocking provisions were met by criticism from several sides. The ISPs criticized the impracticality and technical difficulties of implementing the blockade, while anti-censorship supporters like the Anonymous hacktivist network went so far as to launch DDoS attacks (#OpBlokada) on Finance Minister Andrej Babis’ business websites, claiming that once the government approves one blacklist, they will open the doors to others beyond the casino sector.
The bill was also questioned by a group of senators who sought confirmation that the new blocking provisions weren’t in conflict with the censorship prohibition, as stated in the Constitution, and opposed sanctions against ISPs for failing to block websites on the Ministry of Finance’s blacklist.
However, the court ruled in line with Babis’ views, saying the censorship prohibition was not breached since the provisions will not be restricting or controlling the freedom of expression and information, but protecting against illegal activities. The court also ruled that sanctions against ISPS are also constitutional since providers can be more easily approached by the government than foreign operators and they already have the means to enforce the blockade.