Italy to enforce a global censorship legislation?

By EDRi · February 25, 2009

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Deutsch: [Steht Italien vor der Einführung eines weltweiten Zensurrechts? |]

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Macedonian: [Италија ќе донесе законодавство за… |,mk]

The Italian Senate approved – and the Camera dei deputati (Italian “Low
Chamber”) is ready to finally pass – draft law 733 named Pacchetto
sicurezza – “Security Package”, a series of (supposely) coordinated
provisions aimed at improve, whatever that means, police bodies and public
prosecutor powers.

Of course, the law wouldn’t have been complete without “taking care” of
the Internet, and legislators didn’t loose the chance. Under sect. 50 bis
of this forthcoming law, a public prosecutor which is given “serious
circumstantial evidence” that an online activity of inciting crime has
been committed, is allowed to ask the Minister of Home Affair to order the
ISP’s to shut down the “concerned” network resource. ISP refusal to comply
with Minister’s order should be fined with a penalty up to 250 000 Euros.

The provision is clearly flawed from a constitutional standpoint. The
basis of every western democracy, indeed, is separation of power, thus is
not legally possible to have such a cross-jurisdiction mess between the
public prosecutor (the judiciary power) and a Ministership (the executive
power). Further more, there would be a double trial for the same fact, one
of which (the Home Affair Ministership one), done without the legal
guarantee of a criminal trial (fair process, etc.).

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Crime-inciting wrongdoing is very
difficult to handle, since the border between free-speech and law
violation is often blurred (would a website supporting freedom rebel of a
country be – per se – inciting to commit crimes?). Further more, if ISP’s
must prevent access to a network resource located outside their network
(abroad, for instance) this would mean that the result will be achieved
through deep-packet inspection, or similar, privacy threathning
techniques. Thus – with the excuse of “protecting” Italian citizens – the
D’Alia amendment (named after the MP that proposed it) is likely to be the
first step toward a global censorship system. A Cassinelli amendment
(again, from the MP name of its author) that followed the D’Alia one,
tried to circumvent the above mentioned problems, but with no real changes
in the substance of the matter and the political, net-phobic approach.

Italy had a “sound” tradition in trying to enforce citizen’s global
surveillance systems through ISP’s and telco operators, adopting every
sort of justifications (from copyright, to child pornography, to online
gambling and now to crime-inciting actions). Oddly enough, nevertheless,
these “good intentions” fell always on innocent citizens’ shoulders, while
true criminals stay absolutely free. Or, to put it straight: to (maybe)
catch a few criminals, the whole nation network usage will be subjected to
“third parties” – namely, ISP’s – systematic scrutiny. So long, human

(Contribution by Andrea Monti – EDRi-member ALCEI -Italy)