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Norway DNS blocking consultation to consider privacy implications

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality has sent an addendum to the 21 September 2021 consultation note addressing the privacy implications of the proposal.
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The original consultation paper submitted to European Commission said that Norwegian regulator would be given authority to DNS-block unlicensed gambling websites. This would be accomplished through an amendment to the country’s then-proposed Gambling Act to allow Norway to impose the blocking orders. Under current law, only the country’s state-backed enterprises are permitted to broadcast online gambling to domestic consumers.

Now the ministry argues that the original consultation did not sufficiently consider the privacy implications of the change. The government body said that it has come to the conclusion that the personal and communications protection aspects of the proposal “should have been heard” and therefore would be adding an addendum to the original proposal.

Privacy implications of Norway blocking order

In the original consultation note, the ministry proposed that internet providers – as part of the DNS blocking – should forward users to a landing page operated by the Norwegian Lottery Authority, the country’s gambling regulator.

However, the Authority – unlike the internet providers – is not subject to Norwegian rules on confidentiality. The proposal to redirect users to the landing page of the organisation’s server may have had the unintended consequence of capturing electronic traces left by the user, including information about IP address, time of visit and type of browser.

the original proposal contained provisions in violation of norwegian privacy law

According to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s opinion to the 2021 consultation, this would conflict with the principle of “data minimisation” in the country’s data regulations.      

“The ministry proposes that the landing page should be owned and operated by the internet providers and not by the Norwegian Lottery Authority, as was originally proposed in the consultation note of September 2021,” said the addendum. “If the landing page is added to the internet provider’s server, personal information about the users who try to contact the website will be DNS blocked.”

Gambling sites to be blocked

Despite the original consultation taking place close to two-years ago – since when there have been two new Norwegian governments – the government does not as of yet have the power to block foreign sites from broadcasting unlicensed gambling to Norwegian citizens.

However, that may be about to change. According to Norwegian business news site E24, the country’s minister of culture is going “all in” on the proposal and from the new year such sites are to be blocked via DNS-blocking orders.     

E24 said that the proposal will be presented to the Norwegian parliament – the Storting – in November and would be set for a probable launch date of 1 January 2024.

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