Minnesota Attempts to Block 200 iGaming Sites
April 29, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — In the U.S., the state of Minnesota has found a “novel” way to block its citizens’ access to online gambling sites, the Associated Press is reporting.
Today, that state’s Department of Public Safety said that it has asked 11 Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to hundreds of websites associated with online gambling.
To justify this action, the Minnesota government is citing a federal law that requires service providers to block any telecommunications services used for gambling.
Experts are already predicting that the new action won’t stand in a court of law. “Internet service providers are not common carriers,” states the Associated Press story, “meaning it's unlikely that a court would compel an ISP to comply with Minnesota's request.” This opinion comes from John Morris, general counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., who also stated: "I think this is a very problematic and significant misreading of the statute.”
The notion that state governments can force ISPs to filter certain sites has already been discredited, commented John Palfrey, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, in the article. This is because it doesn’t really work — usually, too few or too many sites are blocked, making the filters easy to circumvent and therefore somewhat meaningless.
Most of the companies ordered to block iGaming access, including AT&T Inc., are currently reviewing the request.
Meanwhile, Minnesota officials have stated an intention to expand the list of blocked websites beyond the 200 sites currently specified.