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Australia Online Gambling Censorship Ban Faces Heavy Criticism

April 7, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – Like a lot of countries, Australia is struggling with how to regulate online gambling. At the moment, Internet casinos and online poker rooms are tolerated and mostly allowed down under, but a much-talked about plan to implement a censorship plan for the country’s entire range of Internet businesses could change that.

The plan is not new; it’s been circulating since at least 2008. But Australian politicians are having trouble getting it off the ground, thanks to a widespread outcry from without the country and within condemning the plan as “censorship”. According to the UK’s Guardian news site, if implemented, Australia’s online censorship plan would be “the strictest of any democracy.”

Recently, Google and Yahoo also spoke out against the plan, and a U.S. state department official has stated that the U.S. has officially “raised concerns” with Australia regarding the plan.

“We don’t discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but I can say that we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials,” the U.S. official told the Guardian.

“Coming off the back of Google’s announcement they are no longer censoring their Chinese search engine, officials from Obama’s State Department are mounting a diplomatic assault on internet censorship worldwide,” adds Dynamic Business, an Australian online business site.

For its part, Australian officials call the censorship plan “filtering”, of the sort that other countries like the UK currently use. “In the UK the independent Internet Watch Foundation lists sites internet service providers (ISPs) are asked to block,” the Guardian article adds. “The list is secret, and frequently updated. In Germany and Canada ISPs use similar blocking systems; in Italy gambling sites are blocked. But critics say that the Australian plan, which has been proposed repeatedly over the past five years, exceeds what is necessary and strays into matters of free speech.”

Online gambling would be among the industries harmed by the Internet censorship plan. Given Australia’s status as a hot and growing gambling market (offline and on), this would be a big blow to online gaming brands as well as online casino affiliate marketers working internationally.