Original article from europaportalen.se
Headline: "I do not want to save Google searches"
Caption: Tiziano Motti now says he does not want to save Google searches. Photo: European Parliament
Italian Tiziano Motti, who was behind the proposal to save searches on Google says he has been misunderstood. Yesterday, his proposal got a majority in the European Parliament.
"It's not the colour of the cat that matters; it's that the cat catches the mouse. And I'm the cat."
This is how Tiziano Motti presented himself in an Italian TV programme when he was a candidate in the EP elections last year. He was a private entrepreneur without a political party who travelled around in north-east Italy and met young people to get their votes with the slogan: "Vote for me – I'm like you".
The campaign was successful. In just a few months, Motti succeeded in getting enough support for a Christian democratic party to "adopt" him three days before the lists of candidates were to be published, and in the election, he defeated the region's incumbent MEP.
Motti did not do his campaigning in marketplaces or party meetings. Instead, he went to night clubs, where he often stayed until six in the morning. "You have to be where the young people are, and they're at the discos. On on the Net", says Tiziano Motti.
He has a tan, a flawless smile, wears a jacket and jeans, which is unusual for a MEP, especially an Italian one. The election campaign is not the only connection to the Net in Tiziano Motti's case. He is the author of the high-profile proposal to expand the controversial data retention directive to include search engines as part of the fight against child pornography. "Another step on the way to a surveillance society!", critics say.
After Europaportalen wrote about Motti's proposal a few weeks ago, a few MEPs started to withdraw their support. They had not understood what they had signed, since the data retention directive was not mentioned in the proposal. Only the technical identifier, 2006/24/EC, was mentioned. Cecilia Wikström (Liberal People's Party, Sweden) sent a letter to alla 736 MEPs, warning them.
Tiziano Motti is aware of the Swedish debate. He feels it is unfair, but is not surprised. "I expected these reactions. Every time one discusses data retention and the Internet, it's like two worlds colliding: one that wants broad freedoms on the Internet and another that is of the opinion that the right not to be violated on the Net is very important.
And a defender of rights is what Tiziano Motti considers himself to be. He is the founder of the Europe of Rights movement with more than 100 000 members in Italy. Among the honorary members are several MPs, mostly from Silvio Berlusconi's party The People of Freedom. The movement aims to protect ordinary citizens' freedoms and rights.
How does the defence of citizens' rights go together with storing everyone's Google searches? "It doesn't", says Tiziano Motti.
He does not want to save all searches on the Net. "The proposal is actually about so-called 'content providers'; the people who let you put material on the Internet, such as Facebook, Youtube or blogging tools. They are the ones who should retain IP numbers, just like ISPs must do today according to the data retention directive.", he says.
Motti says that the debate is built on a misunderstanding of his initiative. However, the text is clear: "The European Parliament [...] Asks the Council and the Commission to implement Directive 2006/24/EC and extend it to search engines in order to tackle online child pornography and sex offending rapidly and effectively".
Why, then, did you write 'search engines' instead of 'content providers'? "I did this, in part, to ensure that the matter was addressed, but also because everyone knows what it's about if I write 'search engine', whereas they don't if I write 'content providers'".
The criticism against Motti and his proposal have also been about lack of information. However, he feels that it is strange that some MEPs have blamed not understanding what they have signed. "I never though 'somebody would not understand this'; that would imply malicious intent. Ordinary citizens might criticise him for not being clear enough, but not a MEP." Motti emphasises that "First you do your homework, then you sign."
Motti often returns to the fact that a so-called 'Written Declaration' is not a piece of legislation; it is a "stimulus to debate, a way to highlight an issue". "If it is passed, absolutely nothing changes from one day to another. Many have missed that."
The 15 allotted minutes grow to 25, then 35. He is keen to get his message through. In the end, he reaches a conclusion; what he calls the overarching purpose of the initiative: "It should not be possible to surf the Internet anonymously. I want to introduce the so-called 'protected anonymity'", he says, drawing out the two words.
According to Tiziano Motti, one must find a balance on the Net, and this must be done through 'protected anonymity'. For someone to gain access to the Net, he must identify himself by sending information to the ISP.
Then, every upload of text, images or video clips can be tracked by the authorities. However, one must continue to be anonymous with respect to other Internet users. "I am a defender of freedom of speech; I don't like censorship. Today, someone who is defamed or accused of something on the Net cannot defend themselves properly."
How is this supposed to be implemented, from a purely technical point of view? "I'm not a technician, don't ask me", he says, and lowers his gaze for a second for the first and only time during our conversation.
He also wants to introduce an 'early warning system'. The purpose is to create a European bureau for paedophilia which will co-ordinate all the member states' work with the issue and send out warnings as soon as paedophile networks are detected.
Tiziano Motti is very proud over his campaign in the parliament. The newly printed brochure proudly proclaims in red letters on a yellow background: "315 signatures in six days! You sign, too!" He calls his homepage for the initiative 'unique'.
However, his methods have been criticised: some MEPs have felt that they have been harassed outside the plenary session assembly room. This went far enough for the Deputy Secretary-General, Francesca Ratti, to prohibit this type of lobbying outside the assembly room.
The day after Ratti's ban, Motti's co-workers are there again. Motti thinks the methods are reasonable. "You have to use advertising-like methods to succeed. It is important to be visible, create curiosity. With manifests, with an email, with anything that can help."
And the methods were successful. After going from 330 down to about 290 signatures last week, the proposal reached 369 signatures yesterday, far before the lapse date. Hence, the proposal will pass when parliament convenes in July. Tiziano Motti has yet again caught the mouse.