Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sovereignity vs. the Internet: The Battle Continues

The battle between national sovereignities and individual freedom and liberty continues its frenetic pace. In a recent article authored by yours truly, news from several countries on the anti-legislation front shows that the U.S. and its UIGEA is far from an isolated instance. Virtually every country with a significant Internet presence and at least the pretense of civil liberties is now forced to wrestle with the scope of the Internet's reach, in terms of both freedom of personal behaviors and of freedom of information itself.

It's not at all clear which side will ultimately triumph, but I do take comfort in one fact. Just as money flows like water, and following the money is the truest way to determining the most likely course of action, information --- and the access to same --- wants to be free. In this way the trend is generally in favor of more open, communal behavior.

My piece mentioned how Spain has now joined Italy and the U.K. in opening the doors to businesses conducting Internet gambling, and South Africa is also considering such legislation. On the flip side, however, comes the news that France recently arrested two Austrian online-gaming executives, and Germany is considering its own version of legislation along the lines of the UIGEA.

What gives? In the case of both Germany and France, the answer seems to be state-sponsored lottery monopolies, the golden goose that each of these governments wants to protect. If it doesn't sound familiar, it should --- it's the exact same sort of venal, political greed responsible for the passage of the UIGEA here in the States. Then there are countries such as Russia, where four new "gaming zones" are in the process of being created, scattered across the Russian land expanse; these pre-selected areas are to be the only locales where gambling is allowed. There's some provincial Canadian legislation under consideration as well.

Nasty stuff. The only thing worse than legislated morality is selectively legislated morality. Right now the world is chock-full of the latter, all driven by greed.

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