The Swiss Gambling Act is currently being revised. Having been discussed in the Council of States, the matter has now passed on to the National Council’s legal commission. The present form of the bill proposes Web blocking that would prevent foreign online games being played in Switzerland. From the point of view of the digital economy, this is a wrong and fatally flawed approach. Swiss companies rely on having a free and reliably-functioning Internet. Web blocking makes the Internet less safe, less reliable and is practically useless in preventing foreign games being offered in Switzerland. Modern Web browsers already enable users to circumvent Web blocking in just a few clicks and completely free of charge.
The expert discussion at yesterday’s open hearing of the Parliamentary Group on Digital Sustainability (Parldigi) showed once again that Web blocking is a controversial and ineffective tool. Web blocking makes the Internet less safe, restricts access to information and data, is legally dubious and threatens Switzerland’s status as an economic and research location. First and foremost, however, Web blocking is ineffective because modern Web browsers offer users ways to circumvent Web blocking simply and free of charge. The security of all Web users is threatened without actually achieving the intended goal of the legislation.
A weaker digital economy
The digitisation of the economy offers innovative and globally networked Swiss companies new opportunities and thus helps strengthen the country as an economic location and secure jobs in Switzerland. For this, the Swiss economy needs a powerful, secure and reliable Internet. Web blocking undermines this and thus threatens the digital economy.
The umbrella organisation ICTswitzerland and the trade association asut and Swico are united in their opposition to state-decreed Web blocking and in favour of free research, networking and technological development.
Swico Managing Director Jean-Marc Hensch says, “Just like the Swiss gaming industry, other sectors will also attempt to use Web blocking to uncouple Switzerland from the global Internet as a way of protecting existing business models and financial interests. If Switzerland is to remain innovative and competitive, we cannot cut ourselves off from international competition and let the digitisation of the economy pass us by.”
Peter Grütter, the President of the Swiss Telecommunications Association (asut), adds: “Innovative Swiss SMEs could profit from the digital transformation. We have the necessary entrepreneurial spirit, high-calibre specialists and powerful infrastructure. However, imposing Web blocking weakens these infrastructures as well as access to data and information and thereby our chances to be successful in the digital economy.”
The four main arguments against Web blocking in brief:
Web blocking makes it harder to fight Internet crime. Web blocking doesn’t prevent access, but merely changes the addresses of data packets. That’s precisely what cybercriminals do. This will therefore adversely affect the detection of (criminal) online falsification. It threatens the fight against Internet crime, which in Switzerland is primarily being waged by MELANI and SWITCH.
Web blocking threatens the successful digitisation of Switzerland. Internationally networked Switzerland benefits from the fact that companies can serve their customers around the globe via the Internet, and this enables them to operate successfully abroad. The research community also relies on free access. If not, we’ll miss the boat.
Web blocking is imprecise and almost unavoidably leads to blocking innocent Web sites, companies and providers (overblocking). As a result, the Swiss can’t access even legitimate content, offers and services any longer.
To circumvent Web blocking, users often use foreign companies to transmit their data packets to the desired target location. Because of this, Swiss internet providers can no longer guarantee the quality and security of the data to the same extent.
For more information, contact:
Jean-Marc Hensch, Managing Director Swico
T. +41 79 509 75 62 | contact via email
Peter Grütter, President asut
T. +41 79 334 52 12 | contact via email