Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Court Rejects Quebec's Bid to Ban Citizens' Access to Private Online Gaming Sites

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Court Rejects Quebec's Bid to Ban Citizens' Access to Private Online Gaming Sites

Article excerpt

Quebec loses bid to block online gaming sites

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MONTREAL - Quebec's attempt to ban its citizens' access to online gaming websites unauthorized by the state-run gambling corporation is unconstitutional because it infringes upon federal jurisdiction, indicated a recent Superior Court ruling.

The province adopted legislation in 2016 forcing internet service providers to block access to online gambling sites unauthorized by Loto-Quebec, sparking accusations the government was trying to censor part of the internet and violate the concept of net neutrality.

But Quebec didn't have the authority to do that because its law touched on telecommunications and criminal law, both federal competencies, the court ruled in a July 18 decision.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association challenged the legislation -- which had not come into effect -- and said Tuesday it was pleased with the ruling.

A spokesperson for the CWTA said in an email, "We have always been clear all Canadians are better served by a proportionate and symmetrical set of federal regulations than a patchwork of provincial regulations."

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, said "the court got it right."

"(The ruling) sends a strong message to the Quebec government and to any provincial government that might think regulating the internet through mandating blocking schemes is the way to go," Geist said.

In the 2015 budget documents, the Finance Department noted Loto-Quebec's online gambling platform was losing money. The government would, therefore, introduce legislation banning Quebecers' access to websites unauthorized by the province's gaming authority.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao had said the law was necessary to protect the health and safety of Quebecers because private gambling companies don't apply the same responsible gaming rules as the provincial government. …

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