Internet Giants and AU Banks Negate Panel’s Thoughts on Web Filtering and Financial Blocking
Net technology giants, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo had jointly signed a submission to Ex-NSW Premier Barry O’Farell, as response to the review panel’s query about web filtering technology and its feasibility as counter measure against illegal offshore betting operators.
Recent reports have shed light that over AU$1 billion in wagering money have been transacted annually, between Australian punters and offshore-based, non-Australia licensed betting operators. Based on the technology group’s response, the review panel led by the Ex-Premier, is apparently seeking guidance and assistance on how to adopt web filtering technology as means of blocking access to offshore betting sites not licensed by the AU government.
The joint response submitted by the Internet technology group gave advice to the AU online gambling review panel that website blocking technology is not a workable option. They cited major practical complexities and fundamental flaws as reasons that make it impossible for Internet filters to block access to web content automatically. The group posed a question, as to who would determine if the gambling service is illegal under Australia’s gambling laws. The illegal service obviously refers to the country’s Internet Gambling law of prohibiting in-play betting transactions facilitated online. That being the case, the response also pointed out the matter of having to block, only the illegal services of websites that offer a mix of both legal and illegal gambling services.
The group had also stated candidly that in solving those kinds of problems, Australia’s gambling industry should not be seeking help from the digital industry. Although they implement global policies aimed at prohibiting illegal gambling activities on their respective online platforms, they also harbour concerns regarding their potential legal liability when blocking consumer access to commercial dotcom sites. The group is of the opinion that in order to uphold the integrity of Australia’s sport and racing industries, the government must strictly enforce its existing laws.
The Australian Bankers Association (ABA) likewise responded negatively to the review panel’s proposal of restricting financial transactions involving offshore gambling websites. Inasmuch as the National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and the Westpac Banking Corporation are ABA members, imposing financial transaction restrictions would pose as a problem for them.
The ABA members reasoned that they lack the appropriate technology needed to implement such restrictions effectively throughout the international banking system. The ABA members likewise stated that imposing limitations to financial transactions entails instituting new control measures that would be costly, as well as complicated.
The ABA maintains that they do not support interference with the banking system, particularly those concerning payments processed by way of alternative payment methods and proprietary networks. Banking technology would prove to be incomplete and disorganised, because the blocking process would apply only to outright electronic transfers, but would exclude those coursed through online payment processors.
Sportsbet, through the company’s CEO Cormac Barry stated in its own submission to the review panel that, Internet blocking and restricting financial transactions to prevent offshore betting operators from doing business in Australia are not practicable solutions. A more sensible course of action is to amend the country’s existing set of gambling laws, which he describes as analogue, as it is no longer suited and applicable in this day and age of digital technology.