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Prague Pirate protest calls for free Internet

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Prague, Feb 20 (CTK) – About 250 people joined a rally in support of a free Internet that the Pirate Party organised outside the Government Office on Saturday, protesting against proposed obligatory registration of Internet users or against the creation of a list of websites to be blocked.

Journalist Ondrej Neff told the protesters that the proposals for obligatory registration remind of the efforts of the former totalitarian regime. He said this seemed to be a gradual effort at reintroduction of censorship. In this connection, Neff said some topics related to the refugee crisis were recently made a taboo in Germany, which was a dangerous trend.

The idea that all Internet users should be registered was recently presented by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD).

The Pirates challenged a draft amendment to the lottery law that would authorise the Finance Ministry to create a list of websites that should be blocked.

Pirate spokesman Ivan Bartos said bans on foreign websites with untaxed gambling might be followed by other websites that would not be so controversial.

Bartos said a court rather than ministerial clerks should decide on any possible bans.

According to the Finance Ministry, the blocking of a website is a measure that would be applied in extreme cases only. Putting a website on the list would be decided in administrative proceedings, which is a procedure that has clearly set rules, and the decision may be challenged at court.

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