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Italy Wants to Restrict Blogs 242

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 Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @09:30AM (#21098801)
    I remember a news story from way back when I was a kid, of some group getting raided in the USSR for possessing an unregistered mimeograph machine.

    As this and the current Burma censorware article show, nothing threatens the powerful like a free exchange of ideas.
  • Re:Blog (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marcion ( 876801 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @09:31AM (#21098815) Homepage Journal
    Exactly, just remove the word blog and call it a website.
  • One day soon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @09:33AM (#21098827)
    PirateBay will have a new torrent section called "thoughts", where one can download all the latest illegal ideas people have uploaded.
  • by andyh3930 ( 605873 ) * on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @09:34AM (#21098845)
    Surely the EU will overrule this law with regard to Human Rights Legislation. UK national law has been deemed illegal on a number of occasions by the EU, so I'd expect the same with this.

    Also how are they going to stop it. It'll be difficult to prove as the bloggers can use proxies and the like and how are the authorities going to prosecute 1000's of people.

  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @09:47AM (#21099017)

    Give us the story, facts-only. Let us decide if it's an assault on free speech. Allowing the reader to come to that conclusion on their own is far more powerful and effective.

    I don't care what the motivation is, anytime someone needs to get permission from a government to express their views, that's an assault on free speech.

    The more controversial question is whether it's an assault on free speech designed to stifle criticism of the government.

  • Re:Not the truth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scosta ( 191483 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:20AM (#21099479) Homepage
    Yes, the original post was basically vaporware, and "questionable" in origin in the sense that who has written it (http://www.beppegrillo.it/ [beppegrillo.it]) has a personal interest to make things worse then they are.

    But it is true that the law text was extremely generic, and so prone to every kind of interpretation, pessimistic or optimistic.

    The basic problem is that italian laws are often very badly written (in the sense that are basically and fundamentally unclear). And in the confusion, everyone can say everything...
  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) * <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:59AM (#21100009) Homepage Journal

    The SUV and the white picket fence are far out of reach.
    If you want to stay out of debt, sure. But just looking around, there are a whole lot of people with multiple 6000-lb road monsters and McMansions, who have no business owning either, thanks to easy mortgages.

    "Middle class" used to mean a small home and a single car, or a modest apartment if you lived in a city -- plus entertainment/disposable income that's a fraction of what people spend today (as a fraction of their income, but probably in absolute terms when you adjust for inflation, too). Today, people don't consider themselves successful unless they live in a large house, have two or three cars, boatloads of entertainment expenses, eat prepared food constantly, and go on jet-setting vacations: none of that was ever part of "middle class" life a few generations ago.

    One of the reasons the 'middle class' has disappeared is because expectations have become unrealistically high as a result of shady credit practices. A person living debt-free and within their means on a moderate income can still be quite comfortable in many parts of the country, but they won't live as well -- to an outside observer, anyway -- as their neighbors who are racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars of mortgage and consumer debt. That creates a lot of social pressure to do the same, particularly since it forces class definitions in a community to creep upwards.
  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:21AM (#21100311)

    The source of the information is not just Beppe Grillo's blog, since that redirects to this article [repubblica.it] by La Repubblica, the main Italian newspaper, and the text of the proposed law [beppegrillo.it] itself.

    In the text of the proposed law, I read: (Art. 2:1)

    Per prodotto editoriale si intende qualsiasi prodotto contraddistinto da finalità di informazione, di formazione, di divulgazione, di intrattenimento, che sia destinato alla pubblicazione, quali che siano la forma nella quale esso è realizzato e il mezzo con il quale esso viene diffuso.

    This means, in brief, that any product with purpose of information, formation, diffusion and entertainment meant for publication is actually targeted by the law, with no exception for no-profit sites. You only need to be a provider of information to be required to register your activity (Art. 6:1). Mr. AlbertoP, you are talking out of your ass, and Mr. Levi in his interview is lying (or he's incompetent, or both).

    Now, some background for you Americans about what is happening over in Italy: there is mounting dissatisfaction with the current political class, which is seen as highly corrupt and mostly busy with covering its ass. I voted for the current government (Prodi, centre-left), and there is no way I am going over to the other side (which would be Berlusconi's), but I am myself very dissatisfied with the current bipartisan climate, and it seems I am in good company. Last year the parliament passed a general pardon to solve an overpopulation problem in jails (you read right: too many criminals, let's put them back on the streets!) which caused a spike in crime rate; the actual reason for a pardon instead of building more jails was that the pardon covered also crimes committed by certain politicians [wikipedia.org]. This, the fact that the government is more busy with infighting that with maintaining the promises given in their 280-page program presented at the last election, the personality of jackass-politician Clemente Mastella [wikipedia.org] (who attended a mafioso's wedding and is now fittingly minister of Justice) and many other things caused a general discontent.

    Enter Beppe Grillo [wikipedia.org]. A well-known comedian with a history of getting banned and censored for jokes on politicians since the '80s, he started a blog a few years ago and, in the current climate, decided to organise a "Fuck-off day" [wikipedia.org] ("Vaffanculo day", V-Day as in V for Vendetta), a series of national rallies all over Italy and abroad. 4-letter words aside, the idea was to gather signatures for some popular-initiative law proposals (no felons can run for office, two-term limit in parliament, and so on). About a million people participated, and 300,000 signatures were gathered (even on an Italian scale, this is quite a success).

    Politicians got scared and started to attack Grillo almost in unison; this law is an effort to silence Grillo and anybody who would take his place.

    For the good news: infrastructure minister Antonio Di Pietro (yes, I voted for his party and I'm damn happy I did) said that if this law proposal is not retired he's torpedoing the government [antoniodipietro.com] and forcing new elections. Nothing straightens out politicians like the threat to lose their post... Grazie Tonino!

  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:13PM (#21101089)

    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.

    I wish I could believe that. The Constitution [wikisource.org] explicitly forbids financing private schools in article 33, yet private schools are financed using some creative accountability, such as calculating the savings to public school when a kid goes to private school. Anyway, which article of the Constitution would this law violate? Article 21 says nothing about being free from a requirement of registration. This is the same system applied to newspapers, it's not illegal today. The point is not to prohibit blogs, which would never get through the Constitutional Court, the point is to make it difficult to open one, or to make it a liability if you do open one without having gone through the bureaucracy, or to open a loophole so that blogs may be closed for some administrative reason.

    Also, a minor correction: the main Italian newspaper is "Il Corriere della Sera", not "La Repubblica" (important, but not the main).

    Hmm, I think I recall reading that Repubblica passed Corriere some months ago. The Wikipedia has only data from 2005, unfortunately.

  • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:56PM (#21101715)

    , 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.
    No, not in the US. The US has some of the weakest defamation laws in the world, and they become even weaker when talking about a public figure. In order for an editor to get sued in your example he would have to knowingly and blatantly lie AND do it for the purpose of causing the politician in question harm. If he can point to even a scrap of evidence to show that he could have thought what he was printing was true, he is off free. Even then, the fact that the politician is a public figure means that the burden of proof is so high, he basically has to be caught on camera laughing melavolantly while declaring out loud that his false and horrible lies will finally bring down politician X. You think I am joking, but I am not. It is nearly impossible to get sued in the US for libel and or defamation against a public figure.

    Now, the editor might very well get skewed for writing false alligations, but he will get skewered by his boss and adveritsers, not by the law. He might very well find himself out on the street, but the law will have no part in it.

    There are a lot of things to not love about many American laws. US free speech law (or lack there off) is not one of them. When it comes to free speech, the US kicks ass and takes names like few others in the world. You will find yourself very hard pressed to find a nation with more liberal free speech laws.
  • ATTN: ASTROTURFER (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @04:12PM (#21104479)
    Although I don't agree much with what orzetto said in another submission, this guy _really_ seems to be someone paid to write this crap.

    In the full text of the law there are explicit references only to subject operating in the editorial field commercially, excluding resellers (art 6). Article 8 of the law defines what it's considered "editorial field" as (point 2) "The definition of the relevant markets which constitutes the editorial sector is done by the Authority of guarantee of Communications according to the the Antitrust authority". At point 3 they clarify that "Editorial markets usually have national dimensions, but for regional and interregional cases, the authority can define their regional extension differently".
    Emphasis is mine. Notice that his post shows:
    A. He probably thinks that quoting laws' articles confuses people enough, he doesn't even bother to notice that what he quotes is against him (or unrelated to the subject in other places).
    B. He has absolutely no idea of what he's speaking about. Very common among politicians. How can you quantify the "editorial market" of a blog? Is it regional? Or national? Do I have to show the logs of the webserver? Oh I forgot, the Authority of guarantee of Communications will probably decide. Now I'm absolutely sure it does not apply to blogs. C'mon!

    How can you read /. and post this crap?

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling