Internet providers in Israel ordered to block overseas online gambling operators

First enforcement initiative targeting Internet Service Providers…but is it legal?

The police in Israel have been visiting internet service providers (ISPs) in the country this week, ordering the managements to block access to overseas gambling websites on grounds that the pastime is illegal in Israel, reports the newspaper Haaretz.

This is the first time Israeli ISPs have been ordered to block sites.

Police teams visiting the ISPs handed the providers a list of overseas gambling sites and their IP (Internet protocol) addresses to be blocked. According to the police directive, the sites "provide a place for illegal gaming for lotteries or gambling, as defined in Section 224 of the Penal Code."

"It is my intention to order your company not to provide users with access to these sites," an order signed by Central District police commander Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sau notes.

It is unknown how or by whom the black list was drafted, but it includes well-known websites such as Victor Chandler. Many of them are directed specifically at the Israeli public and some are even in Hebrew, though most addresses end with the extension "com".

The reaction from ISPs has been almost immediate, with claims that the blacklist does not make any sense. Internet service providers argue that any block on specific IP addresses can easily be circumvented by the websites, simple means by creating new websites. In addition, there have been reservations expressed regarding the legal authority of the police to order the blocks.

The police directive orders providers to respond to its provisions within 48 hours of the notices being served, and it is understood that some ISPs have requested an extension whilst they seek legal advice and the technology implications of the police action.

However, Haaretz reports that the police are determined to see compliance and will not rescind the orders.

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