You are currently browsing EDRi's old website. Our new website is available at

If you wish to help EDRI promote digital rights, please consider making a private donation.

Flattr this


EDRi booklets

Italy to enforce a global censorship legislation?

25 February, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Steht Italien vor der Einführung eines weltweiten Zensurrechts?

This article is also available in:
Macedonian: Италија ќе донесе законодавство за...

The Italian Senate approved - and the Camera dei deputati (Italian "Low Chamber") is ready to finally pass - draft law 733 named Pacchetto sicurezza - "Security Package", a series of (supposely) coordinated provisions aimed at improve, whatever that means, police bodies and public prosecutor powers.

Of course, the law wouldn't have been complete without "taking care" of the Internet, and legislators didn't loose the chance. Under sect. 50 bis of this forthcoming law, a public prosecutor which is given "serious circumstantial evidence" that an online activity of inciting crime has been committed, is allowed to ask the Minister of Home Affair to order the ISP's to shut down the "concerned" network resource. ISP refusal to comply with Minister's order should be fined with a penalty up to 250 000 Euros.

The provision is clearly flawed from a constitutional standpoint. The basis of every western democracy, indeed, is separation of power, thus is not legally possible to have such a cross-jurisdiction mess between the public prosecutor (the judiciary power) and a Ministership (the executive power). Further more, there would be a double trial for the same fact, one of which (the Home Affair Ministership one), done without the legal guarantee of a criminal trial (fair process, etc.).

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Crime-inciting wrongdoing is very difficult to handle, since the border between free-speech and law violation is often blurred (would a website supporting freedom rebel of a country be - per se - inciting to commit crimes?). Further more, if ISP's must prevent access to a network resource located outside their network (abroad, for instance) this would mean that the result will be achieved through deep-packet inspection, or similar, privacy threathning techniques. Thus - with the excuse of "protecting" Italian citizens - the D'Alia amendment (named after the MP that proposed it) is likely to be the first step toward a global censorship system. A Cassinelli amendment (again, from the MP name of its author) that followed the D'Alia one, tried to circumvent the above mentioned problems, but with no real changes in the substance of the matter and the political, net-phobic approach.

Italy had a "sound" tradition in trying to enforce citizen's global surveillance systems through ISP's and telco operators, adopting every sort of justifications (from copyright, to child pornography, to online gambling and now to crime-inciting actions). Oddly enough, nevertheless, these "good intentions" fell always on innocent citizens' shoulders, while true criminals stay absolutely free. Or, to put it straight: to (maybe) catch a few criminals, the whole nation network usage will be subjected to "third parties" - namely, ISP's - systematic scrutiny. So long, human rights.

(Contribution by Andrea Monti - EDRi-member ALCEI -Italy)



Syndicate contentCreative Commons License

With financial support from the EU's Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme.
eu logo