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The Internet

Italy Wants to Restrict Blogs 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-wiat-a-minute-here dept.
nx writes "Italy wants to restrict bloggers' rights by forcing everyone to register their blogs, pay a tax and have a journalist as a "responsible director". This law is clearly designed to curb critical voices and free speech, although it has yet to be approved by parliament."
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Italy Wants to Restrict Blogs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:37AM (#21098893)
    Already 4 days ago, the Italian Minister of Communications, Paolo Gentiloni, declared:

    "The alarm is justified, and the law proposed has to be corrected because it leaves room to absurd and restricted interpretation".

    The law is just proposed, not yet approved, and it is not going to be further pushed in the current form.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:42AM (#21098963)
    The headline in this rather implies that Italy as a nation is behind moves to limit blogs in general, when it would be more accurate to say that certain parts of the Italian government approve of moves to limit blogs in their country. Can we be a bit less gung-ho with the article titles, please?
  • by dan211a (928395) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:46AM (#21099011)
    The post is very inaccurate. Editors, please check the facts before posting sensationalistic headlines.

    There is a law being discussed in the Italian parliament which intends to set the rules for online publications, and define their responsibilities.
    The goal is to recognize and treat professional online news sites in the same way as traditional newspapers, where there is an editor ultimately responsible and accountable for the information
    published. This is not unlike press laws in most western countries: if, for instance, the New York Times publishes unfounded corruption allegations against a politician, its editor is ultimately responsible for those allegations, and the politician could sue him for defamation.

    There was some initial concern in the blogging world that this law could also apply to bloggers, but this concern was already cleared by the undersecretary to the Cabinet, Ricardo Franco Levi, which is the main curator of the text of the proposed law. He clearly stated that the new law would only apply to professional journalists, and that it would absolutely not apply to bloggers of any kind.

    More information (in italian): http://www.corriere.it/politica/07_ottobre_23/levi_legge_editoria_no_bavaglio_ai_blog.shtml [corriere.it]

  • Not the truth (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlbertoP (1178873) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:50AM (#21099071)
    The statement about blogs is not true, and the source of the information is questionable. As you can read on this article of Corriere della Sera, http://www.corriere.it/politica/07_ottobre_23/levi_legge_editoria_no_bavaglio_ai_blog.shtml [corriere.it] (sorry, it's in Italian), where Mr Levi has been interviewed, the law you're discussing about refers to the editorial market, which means newspaper, magazines, books. As a consequence it only affects professional operators who produce them. Personal sites and blogs are excluded from these categories. The law only wants to extend to Internet newspapers the existing rules for the editorial market. Regards
  • by SIIHP (1128921) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:51AM (#21099095) Journal
    "The SUV and the white picket fence are far out of reach."

    US home ownership has been increasing for years and continues to do so.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeownership_in_the_United_States#Historical [wikipedia.org]

  • by Baumi (148744) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:53AM (#21099109) Homepage
    BoingBoing covered [boingboing.net] the story, too, and the comments on it are rather encouraging.

    Especially this one:

    For now, I can report that this proposal is apparently not going anywhere: Paolo Gentiloni, one of the ministers involved in drafting the law, admitted of "not having thoroughly read the proposal" because he thought that "it was not going to alter the status quo". He is now declaring that this law will certainly be changed in order to keep blogs out of the picture, and
    that he's sure that Mr. Ricardo Franco Levi is the first who will be willing to take action to change it.
  • Re:Not the truth (Score:5, Informative)

    by oliderid (710055) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:04AM (#21100071) Journal
    What is a professional operator?

    Example 1:
    I make 100 Euro per month with Google ads on my blog. It means that my blog or web site is "profitable". I guess like anywhere in Europe, you can keep it "as an secondary source of revenue" without any company registration until it reaches a max. turnover.
    Should I register my web site to this administration?

    Example 2:
    I have a popular video game news web site: It makes a relatively serious turnover, let's say 50.000 Euro. Enough for me to live, not enough to hire a professional journalist.
    I guess this time I will be forced to register my web site to this administration and to hire in some way a profesional journalist.

    In this case it hurts "very badly" entrepreneuship. As usual European European internet small/young entrepreneurs will be "forced" to stay undercover (using various techniques like a paypal account, offshore address etc.) until they reach a decent turnover and when they can face the high burden of running an "official" activity in this highly bureaucratic
    continent.

    The only ones who won't be hurt is the establishment or those who have moved to a more business friendly country (one click away)

  • by lbbros (900904) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:43AM (#21100655) Homepage
    Aside all the political siding here (which adds nothing to the discussion), you should notice that some articles of the law contradict the Constitution (the Italian Constitution, that is), therefore this law won't make it anywhere.
    Also, a minor correction: the main Italian newspaper is "Il Corriere della Sera", not "La Repubblica" (important, but not the main).
    The rest of the post is off-topic, although debatable, so I'm not going to comment on it.
  • by orzetto (545509) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:37AM (#21110117)

    Art.5 of the new proposal violates art.3 comma 2, art.9, art.21 and art.41 of the Constitution.

    Article 5 of the proposal defines "publishing activity" as production, distribution and collecting advertisement revenue. Did you mean article 6, the one that makes it compulsory for anyone with a "publishing activity" to register?

    As for the Constitution [wikisource.org] articles, let's flesh them out one by one:

    • Article 3:2 says It is the duty of the Republic to remove those obstacles of an economic and social nature which, really limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, impede the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic and social organization of the country. This has not much to do with publishing. If it were to be as widely interpreted as you seem to want it to be, then they should abolish train and public-transport fares (hey, I'm in favor of that), completely cover all costs of political activity and so on.
    • Article 9 says The Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific and technical research. It safeguards landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation. This is about universities and higher educations. It does not even state that research is free. Writing on a website has little to do with this article.
    • Article 21 says All have the right to express freely their own thought by word, in writing and by all other means of communication. The press cannot be subjected to authorization or censorship. [...] Printed publications, shows and other displays contrary to morality are forbidden. The law establishes appropriate means for preventing and suppressing all violations. It seems to me that this article's last two sentences were written by some fascist, and are already now something that should be abolished. Aside that, compulsory registration does not eliminate your freedom of speech, it only makes it difficult to actually use it. Anyone familiar with Italian bureaucracy will know that registering is going to take time, effort, probably money, a decent amount of patience, and of course approving the registration may take forever: in the law proposal, there are no maximum terms after which registration must be granted.
    • Article 41 says Private economic initiative is free. [...] This has, again, nothing to do with what we were discussing. We were discussing personal websites, not commercial ones. This article is not about freedom of speech: indeed, it is listed under "Title III: Economic relations", not "Title I: Civil Rights".

    So, again, I do not see what is directly unconstitutional about this law proposal. Of course, my opinion is that this means there is a problem in the Constitution, not that the proposal is fine. Feel free to elaborate.

  • by lbbros (900904) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:44AM (#21110153) Homepage
    There's a good writeup here [lulu.com] (link in Italian), which describes well why it is uncostitutional (the author is a lawyer, as well).

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