Gambling Ads Lead Kazakhstan To Block LinkedIn, Site Now Accessible

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Kazakhstan blocked LinkedIn last week only to let service resume in just a few days. The government made the drastic move because of online casino ads and fraudulent accounts allegedly appearing on the social media site.

The blocking of the popular site got international attention. But by Thursday, the government in the Central Asian nation had met with officials from LinkedIn. The Microsoft subsidiary took down the items that were objectionable, Reuters reported.

There are approximately 720,000 LinkedIn members in the country. Nearby Russia has blocked LinkedIn since 2016.

Russia said it blocked the site because its government requires social networks to store personal data of Russians on web servers located in Russia, according to BBC.

As a national policy, Kazakhstan forbids ads for online casinos appearing online, Reuters adds. On its own, LinkedIn forbids gambling ads and fake accounts.

We have clear policies prohibiting ads related to gambling and fake profiles, and are investigating this issue,” LinkedIn said in a statement to Casino.org.

“Our top priority is always making sure that our members have a safe, trusted, and professional experience on our platform.”

Law Prof Says Blocking Site Is Excessive

When asked about the country blocking LinkedIn, University of Michigan law professor Len Niehoff told Casino.org, “Kazakhstan’s approach to the problem is clearly too broad and aggressive.

“Blocking the site is, to borrow a phrase from a Supreme Court justice, like burning down the house to roast the pig,” Niehoff added.

He has practiced law for more than 35 years. Niehoff is of counsel to Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, where he chairs the appellate practice group and is a member of the media law practice group.

He further points out that LinkedIn said its own policies prohibit such conduct. “Kazakhstan should work with LinkedIn to address their shared concerns,” he adds.

Throughout the world, there have been a number of instances where foreign governments severely restricted or blocked social media sites, Niehoff said. It was “an effort to curtail certain kinds of speech that we protect in the United States, like political criticism.

“This situation is somewhat more complicated because Kazakhstan’s purported concern is narrower: It wants to prohibit the use of fake accounts and gambling ads.”

Gambling Ads Are Commercial Speech

“Even under United States law, fake accounts can give rise to concerns about fraud — which the First Amendment does not protect — and gambling advertisements may be subject to some greater regulation as a form of commercial speech,” Niehoff said.

In June, YouTube announced it will no longer accept ads for its website’s homepage masthead from companies marketing gambling.

YouTube’s masthead ads are the commercial spots site users see at the top of the video-sharing and social media platform’s homepage. Google, which owns YouTube, says the masthead is YouTube’s “most prominent advertising placement available to advertisers.”

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