New Italian draft law – to disguise state censorship

By EDRi · October 24, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

As it already happened six years ago with the infamous law 62/2001, a new
law draft on the “re-arrangement of publishing”, prepared by the Italian
government on 3 August 2007 and now entering parliament procedure, clearly
intends to enforce bureaucratic and financial burdens, as well as sanctions,
also on the free and private expression of thought by “normal citizens”
using the internet.

The text prepared by the government is deliberately confusing and ambiguous.
If approved by parliament as it is, it would cause confusion and uncertainty
on the possibility of free expression even for people who are not
professional journalists or publishers of newspapers, magazines or

There is no explanation of why the government intends to treat as
“card-carrying journalists” also people who are not, and don’t intend to
be and why the proposed text omits any clear statement that the
obligations to be instituted by this law (if it is approved) apply only
to professionals and entrepreneurs in the content producing industry.

If the concern is to sanction “defamation” the government’s proposal is a
non-solution: the appropriate laws already exist, and anyone publishing
online can be easily identified. So this cannot be an excuse for
liberticide legislation.

The fact is that this legislator draft leads to the creation of one more
“Damocles sword” to be used against whoever publishes “uncomfortable”
opinions or information. Such a law, if approved, would not be obeyed by
many people, for a variety of reasons. Because they are not aware of it, or
they don’t understand it. Because of deliberate and legitimate “civil
disobedience”. Because of its obscure meaning and difficult interpretation.
Etc. The result would be the creation of an “artificial crime” to be
persecuted according to circumstances and opportunities – or to the whims
and biases of whoever will hold this power.

This is damaging also for business enterprises using the net, as well as
internet providers. This draft law inflicts a severe blow on hosting
services, as well as those based on communities and the free providing of
widely useful content. Therefore, in addition to contrasting the universal
right for free speech, it also hampers a business model that has
increasingly proven to be an extended social benefit.

What we demand: it should be clearly stated that the obligations – if they
are really necessary – apply only to publishers, press services and
generally only to information entrepreneurs, that work for profit and obtain
public subsidies, clearly excluding any publishing by private individuals
and non-profit organisations that are not “selling” anything.
After this statement was issued by ALCEI on 19 October, and following
widespread protest in Italy, the government has been making “reassuring
noises” about amending the draft. Of course this does not mean that the
problem is solved. It will be necessary to keep an eye on what happens
to this law – if and when it goes through parliamentary process – as
well as on any other government or legislative action that may have
similar effects.

ALCEI statement – Return of MinCulPop ? (19.10.2007)

ALCEI Press Release – Oct. 19 2007

Italian version

Law 62/2001 (only in Italian, 7.03.2001)

Draft law on the “re-arrangement of publishing” (only in Italian, 3.08.2007)

InterLex – N. 382 – special issue on the freedom of information (only in
Italian, 23.10.2007)

(contribution by EDRI-member – ALCEI -Italy)