Swiss Plan to Block Online Gambling Sites Could Go to Voters

The Swiss government’s plan to block the domains of internationally licensed online gambling operators may be headed a voter referendum. The plan, scheduled to go into effect in 2019, is opposed by Swiss internet service providers and several civil libertarian groups. That opposition has resulted in a petition seeking a public referendum on the law.

The Swiss government’s plan to block online gambling sites from offshore operators has met with opposition including a petition drive to hold a voter referendum on the law.

The Swiss Legislature has approved the blocking, which is scheduled to begin in 2019. The new rules restrict online gambling operations to those controlled by Swiss land-based casino operators. Swiss internet service providers would be required to block the domains of unauthorized gambling sites.

However, Swiss internet service providers and civil libertarian groups have called the measure censorship and started a petition drive. Swiss law allows for a referendum on legislation if 50,000 sign the necessary petition within 100 days of the law’s passage.

According to Swiss media outlet Blick, a coalition of three political parties and the Internet Society Switzerland Chapter have collected about 65,000 signatures. About 25,000 of those have been certified by the state. The group has until January 18 to certify the additional 25,000 signatures needed for the referendum to be approved.

Andri Silberschmidt, president of the youth organization of Switzerland’s Free Democratic Party, told Blick that his group is combatting “digital isolation,” and said that once a government starts banning what its citizens can do online, even tighter restrictions are usually not far behind.

“Freedom for the economy and the internet, has great support in Switzerland,” he said.

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