Berlusconi's wiretapping law threatens online publishers

By EDRi · October 19, 2011

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Deutsch: [Berlusconis Abhörgesetz bedroht Online-Medien |]

The Italian Parliament has resumed discussions on the very criticised
governmental bill that would limit the publication of wiretaps in the news
media, forcing at the same time websites to automatically publish
corrections at request. But on 12 October 2011 the decision on the final
text was postponed, after the paragraph 29 was amended so it will not apply
to any blog.

The draft bill was approved by the Senate in June 2011 but has been put
aside due to strong criticism from civil society. However, Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi, who would directly benefit from the law, has succeeded in
inserting the draft bill on the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies a few
days after it was approved by a legislative committee on 5 October, with
very minor changes.

“The latest amendments make no difference,” Reporters Without Borders said
adding: “Restricting the publication of tapped phone conversations in the
media to this degree would gravely impede investigative journalism. It has
all the hallmarks of a crude and dishonest device for gagging the media. It
also has a distinctly political dimension. The government is trying to cover
up the prime minister’s sex scandals, many of which have been exposed by the
publication of phone transcripts.”

The bill says that the media can publish a transcript from a telephone
tap only if judges or lawyers consider it is not “essential for proving the
guilt or innocence” of the person under investigation. The publication of
any “inappropriate” phone tap material would be punishable by 6 months to 3
years in prison or a fine of 10 000 euro for a reporter and of up to 300 000
euro for an editor.

Many journalists and bloggers demonstrated against the bill on 5 October in
Rome. During three days, between 5 and 7 October, Wikipedia blocked access
to all entries in its Italian-language version in protest against the bill
“The obligation to publish on our site corrections required by the law,
without even the right to discuss and verify the claim, is an unacceptable
restriction of the freedom and independence of Wikipedia.”

“Wikipedia Italy is on strike against an idiotic proposed law,” said Jimmy
Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, who considers that as Italy already has very
good laws against defamation, the proposed bill “overreaches
dramatically. I have never heard of any law like it anywhere else in the

Now, the entire draft law has been apparently postponed until November.

Draft Italian bill on wiretapping (only in Italian, 6.10.2011)

Investigative reporters and websites again threatened by proposed “gag law”

Blackout in Italy: “The first time Wikipedia worldwide has done anything of
this kind” (6.10.2011)

Blackout in Italy: “The first time Wikipedia worldwide has done anything of this kind”

A Summit on wiretapping, Berlusconi wants to reopen the game (only in
Italian, 13.10.2011)

Wiretapping bill in November: a standard against websites and blogs today?
(only in Italian, 14.10.2011)

Wiretapping bill in November, a brief limitation (only in Italian,