Save the Internet… Gamblers!

by on June 8, 2006

Not only is eBay lobbying to impose government regulations on the Internet, but they’re lobbying for more draconian restrictions on Internet gambling, too. Radley Balko gives them a a well-deserved spanking in his Fox News column:

Goodlatte’s bill bans the use of financial services to facilitate Internet gambling sites. It’s already illegal to operate a gaming site on U.S. soil. But most experts agree it’s still legal to “place” a bet. Goodlatte wants to put up a wall between the domestic “bet placing” and the offshore “bet taking,” which FirePay and Neteller make possible.

If banks and other financial institutions are going to be responsible for policing what their customers do online, as will happen should Goodlatte’s bill become law, it’s safe to assume that they’ll comply by simply banning all transactions with offshore payment services.

Which means that Goodlatte’s bill’s main effect will be to shield PayPal, a domestic company, from foreign competitors (foreign competitors that, ironically, are doing exactly what PayPal’s founders envisioned).

What’s more, the letter eBay government relations director Brian Bieron sent to Goodlatte announcing the company’s support of his bill actually goes above and beyond what any gambling foes in Congress have called for. Bieron in fact calls for the actual prosecution of Internet gamblers themselves, a policy which could only be enforced by allowing law enforcement officials to essentially begin monitoring everyone’s online activity, including tracing visited websites back to IP addresses.

Instead of lobbying for the so-called “the First Amendment of the Internet,” perhaps they should show more concern for the actual Bill of Rights.

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