By Bogdan

AGCOM, Italy’s Electronic Communications Authority decided on 12
December 2013 to take in its hands the powers to order the removal of
any online content for alleged copyright violation, with the purpose to
speed up the procedure.

The authority had drafted new regulations allowing it to order a domain
seizure or ISP blockade of any site failing to remove infringing content
in 72h, without the need of any court order. Moreover, AGCOM has
introduced these rules through an administrative process, without a
hearing in Parliament.

The provisions require ISPs to block their subscribers from accessing
not only foreign websites accused of infringing the copyrights, but
Italian websites as well.

AGCOM’ proposal met strong criticism from ISPs, consumers, libertarians
and specialists because it could affect freedom of speech as well as
business rights. A campaign initiated by an alliance of organizations
including the consumer groups, lawyers, and business has tried to oppose
the Italian Draft Regulation on Copyright Protection on Electronic
Communication Networks published by AGCOM in July 2013.

One of the most strongly opposed issues was the modality whereby the
Italian regulator would supervise and deal with online copyright
infringements by way of orders of removal and blocking. “AGCOM has
introduced these rules through an administrative process, without
hearing the Italian Parliament and without oversight by a court, as is
the case in all other countries,” explained the lawyer Fulvio Sarzana.

Various members of the Italian Parliament as well as Foreign Affairs
Minister Emma Bonino have challenged AGCOM’s competence in regulating
this matter observing that only the legislator should fix limits and
guarantees of civil freedoms.

Yet, on 12 December 2013, the proposals was passed by the AGCOM by
unanimous vote. The new system will come into force on 31 March 2014.
Users uploading alleged infringing content and ISPs failing to take
action in due time face penalties of up to 250 000 Euro.

Torrent indexing sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are
already blocked at the ISP level in Italy, following orders from various
courts. Now, court orders just became obsolete.

The “AGCOM” ( Italian Communications Authority) law on web sites
removal. A damage for internet-related businesses and freedom (16.12.2013)
http://www.fulviosarzana.it/en/blog-en/the-agcom-italian-communications-authority-law-on-web-sites-removal-a-damage-for-internet-related-businesses-and-freedom/

Measures to Black Out Pirate Sites Unanimously Approved (15.12.2013)
https://torrentfreak.com/measures-to-black-out-pirate-sites-unanimously-approved-131215/

Cassandra Crossing/ AGCOM, ten years after (only in Italian, 16.12.2013)
http://punto-informatico.it/3958139/PI/Commenti/cassandra-crossing-agcom-dieci-anni-dopo.aspx

Italy Plans to Wipe Out Pirate Sites and Expose Owners (29.10.2013)
http://torrentfreak.com/italy-plans-to-wipe-out-pirate-sites-and-expose-owners-131029/

EDRi-gram: Increased level of online censorship in Italy (23.10.2013)
http://edri.org/increased-level-of-online-censorship-in-italy