Stop For Anti-Internet Gambling Action In Bulgaria

The recent passage of a Bulgarian law authorising the blocking of unlicensed online gambling websites caused immediate protest from internet freedom activists. They have even asked the newly inaugurated Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, to veto the recent Gambling Act and send it back to the country's parliament.

It was a reaction to last Thursday parliament decision to mandate internet providers to ban access to sites that offer unlicensed online gambling.

In an open letter to President Plevneliev, the civic initiative "No to ACTA and Internet Control," "Internet Society Bulgaria," and the "Association of Independent Internet Providers," requested the exercise of president's veto claiming it would allow a larger and deeper debate on alternatives that do not violate citizens' rights.

The data from Reporters without Borders on internet freedom that protesters quoted, showing an increasing number of countries are tempted to censor and limit access to internet sites which is against the freedom of the Internet and the rights of citizens.

The activists maintained that filtering internet traffic is an extremely dangerous precedent by which the authorities will punish consumers in limiting their access to Internet sites instead of preventing the owners of unlicensed gambling sites to violate the law.

In their submission, the organisations claim that: "Global experience shows that the appetite of governments to control [the] internet is not going down; to the contrary – it is on the rise. Tomorrow, those who want to control internet for the "right content" can decide to limit access to Facebook and Twitter."

Furthermore, it is said that internet censorship is expensive but ineffective, and could lead to users having to pay higher prices for internet access because providers, forced by the State to install filtering systems, would transfer their expenses to the customer.

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