Monday, October 01, 2007

The beginning of the end: blocking payments for gambling...

Quite interesting both the US officials (Treasury and Fed) see proposed rule here and the Dutch government seek to stop 'unlawful betting practices' by demanding the banks that execute the payments to block those.

Well, if we go down this road and allow our governments to dictate which payments which customers may send/acccept (and instruct our banks to act accordingly), we may as well make the Treasuries our single national payment institution. This is what in my view will happen.

First the rules will be targeted to situations to which no one can protest: companies that sell child porn. This will get the first round of regulation off the ground.

Then the question will be: can we also stop payments to/from betting companies? Which is not so easy: in the Netherlands all non-Dutch government agreed betting (from abroad) is viewed as illegal. But that is a political judgment call, stemming from the fract that our government earns money from some of those companies that it has provided a betting license with. With a little luck, you also get this second round of rules agreed.

Third, we will see how it's not the national government prescribing to block payments to/from specific companies/customers, but local police officers or DA's. And they'll also be allowed to automatically fine the users that try to make payments to those companies that are considered blacklisted. Because those users are doing something illegal too....

Now, while this last scenario appears politically impossible now, it won't be once we're used to the first two interventions.

It is quite bluntly a disgrace that politicians and policymakers so improperly and so recklessly invade our privacy and dictate our and the banks' behaviour. If the bottom line is that police officials are not sufficiently equipped to catch crooks... fine, provide them with more resources. But don't try short-cutting it with using tools/means that will only end up backfiring at some point in time.

Or as Kant would say it, put yourself in the position of the other and question yourself once again if the proposed ruling is fair to all involved...