EU: blocking websites fails as an enforcement tool

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Gambling blockades "easily circumvented", regulator finds

European Union officials looking into online gambling have highlighted the futility of blocking websites, saying the measures rarely work.

The news comes as the BPI has asked the UK's ISPs to block more filesharing sites in a bid to stop piracy.

In a document looking at the way various governments within the EU block gambling sites, the commission looked at the two most common methods – DNS and IP blocking – and concluded that while they might put off casual would-be punters, anyone that really wants to access the sites will find a workaround.

The report casts doubts on the value of similar blocks implemented at the request of rights holders in the UK.

ISPs are faced with the implementation, not only implying costs but also creating potential liability issues

“Blocking access to websites does not work as an isolated enforcement tool and can be easily circumvented,” the EU report concluded. "Moreover, depending on the technology used, website blocking can impact on legitimate businesses.”

ISP workload

According to the EU, blocking required resource-heavy techniques to keep blocking lists up to date and placed too much pressure on ISPs, both financially and through the risk of legal action from sites that are blocked.

“Keeping the list up-to-date requires significant resources while internet addresses can be changed instantly," the EU said.

“ISPs are faced with the implementation of the provisions for blocking access to websites, not only implying costs and tying-up of resources but also creating potential liability issues."

The latter worry has been cited as the reason British ISPs insist on court orders before they block sites, fearing they could be liable to legal actions from websites without a judicial process.

Although ISPs reported a slight drop in P2P traffic when The Pirate Bay was blocked in the UK, ISPs said users soon got round the restrictions.

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