Crossing The Line

Recently the Republican controlled government, with the help of many of the Democrats who say that they should be counted on to counter the Republican’s advances, passed and signed into law a Port Security bill. Unfortunately, in an example of big government politics they also added a rider to the bill that had absolutely nothing to do with Port Security and has crossed a line in policing the Internet that opens the door to turning us more into China and Germany than we ever thought possible.

Freedom is a scarce commodity in this day and age in America. Every year the government passes more and more laws that restrict our freedom of choice, of making our own decisions about our lives and taking private property from us. In the latest example of this is the Internet Gambling Act, added to the Port Security Bill signed into law a few weeks ago. And not only is it a further restriction on the rights of Americans but examining the details of the are even more mind-boggling.

Amazingly, it doesn’t outlaw Internet gambling. Why? Well, it could have something to do with a law doing that being considered unconstitutional. Also, most gambling sites are not in the US so it is hard to make a law stating that you can not use a web site or service that is run outside of the United States (though attempts are in place to counter this including an international treaty to enforce other country’s laws on US citizens). No, instead of coming out and outlawing Internet gambling a much more ‘political’ tact was taken.

First, it is now illegal for US banks or any 3rd party financial institution (like Firepay) to transfer money to or from these sites. By doing this the government now makes it very hard for Americans to use the gambling sites or extract any winnings that they might earn. But it is not impossible, using banks in other countries to get around this law will start occurring and it is not incumbent upon the banks to ensure that the funds are not being transferred this way. All it apparently does it create a nuisance on the US gambler.

Second, and this is the one that concerns me the most, ISPs are now instructed by law to block access from their clients to these gambling sites. Never before has the government done such a thing, even for child pornography sites. Now, we go the way of China and Germany, blocking access to parts of the global community called the Internet. And not to fight pornography, hate speech, propaganda, etc. No, it’s to stop the insidious use of money by US citizens to play poker, craps, blackjack, etc. Games of both chance and skill. There is a legal difference between the two and by including poker they have lumped the two different types of games into one group.

But, of course, there is a problem here. If they block access to ALL Internet gambling then the government run lotteries might take a hit. We can’t have that. And the Indian Gambling might suffer as well. Our guilt prevents us from taking away something that really does help the Indian people. So what to do? Why, we just put in qualifiers into the law!

Yes, that’s right, lotteries (the stupid tax and a game of chance), horse track betting and Indian gambling sites are exempt from the law.

Of course, we now know that 74 percent of Americans do not want a ban on Internet Poker. We also know that instead of regulating Internet gambling, ensuring that the games are run honestly and taxed to help those who do end up with gambling problems, this law ensures that those who want to gamble on the Internet will be pushed underground, to sites that may not be as scrupulous and has no incentive not to cheat if they think they can get away with it.

But, that’s the mindset of a party that feels that it should legislate the morality of its citizens. It doesn’t matter if most people are against it or that it will only push people to more dangerous uses. Only that those who think that they know better than everyone else can make a law to ensure that we aren’t allowed to do what they don’t want us to do.

And now, the question is, what ELSE will the government use this newfound power to block Internet sites for?

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