Last week, the Slovak Ministry of Finance proposed a revision of communication law by extending it to create a list of websites to be banned by all Slovak Internet service providers (ISPs). Even more disturbing, this list would be maintained by the tax office in Bratislava, a governmental office. Long story short, under this proposal, the tax office would have the power to dictate which websites are blocked and which are not.
This step is being taken as a measure to prevent citizens from gambling on international websites and therefore steering them to spend money, thus paying more taxes, only in the Slovak republic. An idea worthy of an economics student in college maybe, but not a head of state finance.
The Society for Open Information Technologies reacted immediately to this censorship attempt by creating an online petition against the proposed law, which has received more than a thousand signatures in less than 48 hours.
Among SOITs arguments, the organization points out the technological inefficiency of the proposal, given it is possible to bypass such a block in a matter of minutes, even for a non-technical person. Further, the new law would require the ISP to block entire sites, so what happens if gambling companies start operating through Facebook.com or other similar popular social networking sites? Finally, this would increase the price of Internet connection for the end-user, given that ISPs would have to implement additional procedures and would pass that cost on to their customers.
What is most surprising about this revision is the fact the Ministry proposed it despite the UN declaration of Internet access as a human right, the EU parliament vote against web blocking and recent rejection of similar legislation in the Czech republic.
I believe risking citizens' freedom of access to information based only on economical interests is unconstitutional.