I know a few folks have similarly added Hard-Boiled Poker as a subscribed feed, though I ain’t sure how to determine how many of you have done so. If you are subscribed to the blog, you might have noticed that today I appear to have something like 54 new posts. No, I haven’t been typing nonstop for the last thirty hours . . . I’ve just made some small edits to a number of earlier posts. Haven’t altered any content -- just went back got rid of all the links I had previously made to online poker sites. So unless you’re interested in tripping your way back through the last few months of HBP, you can safely mark them there posts as read.
I haven’t been bothering to include such links to the sites for a couple of months now, mostly because I decided to stop messing around with the affiliate nonsense. I’m also vaguely mindful of that nasty little part (c) of section 5365 of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (titled “Civil remedies”). That’s the part (discussed before) that says federal agents can force Internet Service Providers to block access not only to online gambling sites, but to sites that link to online gambling sites.
The UIGEA doesn’t appear to be as menacing about forcing ISPs (or, as the UIGEA imprecisely terms ’em, “interactive computer services”) to do the DOJ’s bidding as it is with banks, credit card companies, third-party vendors, and other “financial transaction providers.” The Act says that ISPs will be responsible for “the removal of, or disabling access to, an online site violating section 5363 [i.e., an online gambling site catering to U.S. players], or a hypertext link to an online site violating such section,” but does not explicitly say that ISPs have to police themselves. Nor does the Act threaten ISPs with felony charges (as it does the “financial transaction providers”).
You could say my decision to remove all links from Hard-Boiled Poker to online poker sites (which are, according to the feds, gambling sites -- no matter how much we might want to argue otherwise) is yet another example of someone giving in to the pressure of the UIGEA. Of course, I have no real financial interest in keeping those links up anyway, so it ain’t such a hullaballoo. (Incidentally, that paid ad for InterPoker up in the corner will remain up until the end of March when our agreement ends. If I understand the UIGEA, that ad doesn’t include links to a site in violation of the Act, anyway, since InterPoker does not accept U.S. players.)
I wonder, though, whether the proprietors of any other blogs or sites are at all concerned about this section of the UIGEA, and the possibility that ISPs somewhere down the road actually might disable access to their sites. Folks don’t seem too bothered about this particular part of the Act right now. Bill Rini didn’t refer to it directly in his excellent “Top 10 Myths about the UIGEA” post from last week, which seems to indicate to me that it isn’t really an issue for most at present.
Of course, just yesterday a bill (the Securing Adolescents from Exploitation Online Act) was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would require ISPs to monitor traffic and report any images exploiting children to federal authorities. There’s been a lot of discussion about how “financial transaction providers” aren’t equipped to monitor each and every check that passes through their institutions, perhaps rendering ineffectual whatever regulations they are due to be given by the feds. But would it be that burdensome for ISPs to monitor traffic to and from, say, a few hundred offshore gambling sites? My impression is that if ISPs can monitor for images, they can certainly monitor for links to sites violating good ol’ section 5363. (Whether they will or not, who knows?)
Then again, I can’t prezactly figger how to monitor the traffic at my own site -- at least to guess how many subscribers I might have -- so who am I to speculate about such things . . . ?
Labels: *the rumble