Published on April 6, 2015 in Industry News

Canada FlagThe government of Quebec will soon be ordering all unlicensed gambling websites to be blocked by Internet Service Providers across the city. 

The motivation behind the decision is the loss of revenue experienced by the government's own gambling website, Espacejeux. With increased advertising and the redirection of revenue from illegal websites to Espacejeux, the Quebec governments hopes to generate $13.5 million in 2016 and $27 million per year thereafter.

Private Internet Service Providers are concerned as to what a regulation such as this one could mean for the neutral role of Internet providers in Quebec. However the government claims that the blocking measure is aimed at improving public protection because illegal websites are not as responsible as their own gambling site, Espacejeux.

The government of Quebec feels that the illegal websites they are aiming to block pose a real risk to the population, especially to young people.

Bram Abramson, chief legal and regulatory officer for independent ISP TekSavvy Solutions Inc. had this to say about the proposed block, “ISPs are intermediaries and we do what we do best when we act a little bit like utilities: We provide access to the Internet. We should not be put in a position of picking and choosing what people have access to,” he said in an interview.

“We would want the government to think very, very carefully before taking this unprecedented move, which I have no doubt would be treated with great trepidation by consumers and by everyone who’s interested in the free flow of information,” Mr. Abramson added.

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, called the move a “remarkable and possibly illegal plan as the government seeks to censor the Internet for its own commercial gain.” He also predicts that Quebec could face a legal challenge on the grounds of free speech.