orzetto writes: After months of plummeting polls due to the legal problems and private conduct of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who controls in one way or another Italian TV, the Italian government is now considering a draconian censorship law to prohibit publication in newspapers and blogs of wiretap transcripts, in which Berlusconi has been caught talking to criminals and bragging about his sexual feats with prostitutes.
Included in the package, a norm that could be devastating to blogs and independent news sources (Italian original): it includes the obligation for any Web site operator to "correct" any offending content within 48 hours after a complaint has been filed, with a fine of 12,000 euros in case of disobedience. Quite interestingly, there is no requirement on the complaint to be well founded or even truthful, and there is neither any possibility to appeal the complaint.
The law is still being drafted, and has already attracted criticism from the opposition.
orzetto writes: Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports (English translation) that Italian Prosecutor Henry J Woodcock's team managed to bust a far-reaching corruption ring led by manager Luigi Bisignani.
Bisignani, knowing his phone was wiretapped, changed his cellphone's SIM often and used Skype to avoid being caught. However, Woodcock's team managed to phish him with a fake Facebook notification and installed a trojan developed by
the Italian police, named "Querela". Querela took control of the microphone of Bisignani's PC and allowed wiretapping Skype calls and using the computer itself as a bug.
Bisignani's activities included trying to remove a journalist disliked by the government from his post in public broadcaster RAI by manipulating its top management, and maintaining a power structure with links to several government members, including a minister and Silvio Berlusconi's powerful and media-shy secretary Gianni Letta.
Bisignani is now held in custody in Naples.
orzetto writes: Four countrywide referenda were held in Italy last weekend, one of which on the Italian government's plan to reintroduce nuclear power. Voters rejected the idea with a percentage of 95%. Due to intricacies of the Italian referendum law, the referendum would have been invalid (and equalling a victory for the nay side) if less than 50% of voters showed up, so most Nay supporters simply did not vote.
As the turnout was 54%, Italy will stay clear of nuclear power at least for the next five years. Among the supportes of the rejection, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize for Physics 1984.
The Italian government had tried to invalidate this referendum by repealing its own nuclear plan, stating it would be reintroduced after the referenda, but the strategy was invalidated by the courts.
The other referenda stroke down privatisation of water resources and a law that gave prime minister Berlusconi the right not to be put on trial (currently, for various corruption charges and statutory rape).
orzetto writes: Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that YouTube and similar websites based on user-generated content will be considered TV stations (Google translation) in Italian law, and will be subject to the same obligations. Among these, a small tax (500 €), the obligation to publish corrections within 48 hours upon request of people who consider themselves slandered by published content, and the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots. The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control.
The main reason is likely that, being a TV, YouTube has now to assume editorial responsibility for all published content, which facilitates the ongoing € 500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against YouTube because of content copyrighted by Berlusconi's TV networks that some users uploaded on YouTube. Berlusconi's Spanish TV, TeleCinco, was previously defeated in court exactly on the grounds that YouTube is not a content provider.
The four Google execs were also accused of defamation, but acquitted. Their lawyers announced they will go to an appeal. Note that Italy has 3 degrees of trial, appeals are always granted, and this is only a 1st-degree trial; all sentences below 2 years are not enforced unless there is also another, unrelated sentence in which the defendant was found guilty.
Berlusconi, whose company recently lost a $1.1-billion lawsuit to a competitor for bribing a judge in its favour, and who has this week been accused to be the Mafia's front man in politics by a key Mafia turncoat, had managed to steer clear of the witness-corruption issue by issuing a law making him immune from criminal prosecution—that is, until Italy's Constitutional Court stroke it down as unconstitutional in early October; meanwhile, the corrupted party, English lawyer David Mills, has already been found guilty and lost his first appeal (of two). Berlusconi has been scheduling international meetings with any foreign leader willing to meet him (most recently with Belarusian dictator Lukashenko) in order to provide "legitimate reasons" not to appear in court.
The protest has been organised from below, on the Internet, with minor opposition political parties providing only logistical support. The main opposition party, the Democratic party, has in fact not supported the protest and plans its own toned-down event next week, after having, last week, hinted it would accept Berlusconi's strategy of avoiding judgement. Among the supporters of the protest known to the Slashdot crowd, is none less than Richard Stallman.