Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A WORRYING DEVELOPMENT IN ITALY

This is an article of mine published in Italy Magazine today:

“The most horrible news to come out of Italy since World War II”, said the twitter feeds over the weekend, as the Italian government’s intention to force anyone uploading videos onto the internet to obtain a licence became clear. The comparison with World War II was an exaggeration, of course, but it does reflect how worried people are by the Berlusconi government’s repeated attempts to control what Italians see and do on the internet.

In 2007 there was an attempt to control bloggers, then, last year, in the wake of the attack on Mr Berlusconi, a proposal [later dropped] to impose tighter controls on social networking sites. Now, as part of a package of measures also affecting television, Paolo Romani, the Deputy Economic Development Minister and Communications Undersecretary, has drafted a bill which would effectively give the government control over what is uploaded onto the internet in video form. Websites such as You Tube would be unable to operate in Italy.

Google, which owns You Tube, has pointed out that the website, rather than creating video content, only makes it available to internet users. Marco Pancini, Google’s European Public Policy Counsel and Director of Institutional Relations of Google Italia has requested an urgent meeting with Mr Romani.

The government is claiming that the new law is necessary because of EU rules on product placement in videos. The draft law’s many opponents – from Constitutionalists to newspaper editors, actors and ordinary bloggers – all say that this is a ridiculous interpretation. The Articolo 21 Group, which defends freedom of speech in Italy, has launched a “Giù le mani dalla rete” [“Hands off the Net”] campaign.

What, then, is the real reason for this draft law? Some opponents of the government claim that it is part of a wider attempt to stifle free speech; others that its purpose is to serve the business interests of Mr Berlusconi by creating obstacles for his competitors in the television industry; still others that the government simply does not understand how the internet works. One thing is certain: if this law is passed Italy will be the only country in Western Europe to require private citizens to obtain government consent to upload video onto the internet. In the international press Italy is already being compared to Iran and China.

12 comments:

CherryPie said...

Big Brother springs to mind!

Sean Jeating said...

May - à la Monty Python - five tons fall on the heads of Berlusconi, Moroni & Co.. - and may they be as heavy as the dome of Milano.
Big Brother?
Big bastards!!!
And I do not ask to apology in case this is taken for an expletive!
I do herewith affirm, though, that the owner of this blog, is not responsible for my opinion.
More will soon to be found on my blog. And then ... then any evil bastard (sic!) is most welcome to sue me.

Ah, Lady Limoncello. Just in case it were necessary to apology: I do feel much better now. :)

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

That is terrible. I hope all the negative publicity will have some impact.

lakeviewer said...

Interesting. Do keep us updated.

RNSANE said...

Quite sad, I think! There are so many more important things about which to worry!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

That's astounding! It's also infuriating! Where is Garibaldi when his land needs him?

Winchester whisperer said...

Boo for Eurocracy!

Saretta said...

Well-written article! I'm worried about this issue!

SicilyGuide said...

This is terrible. I think it is mostly due to the advertising money that comes from TV. They want to keep hold of this.

James Higham said...

I'm going to run with this one tomorrow morning, Welshcakes. Worrying indeed.

mutleythedog said...

Its happening all over in different guises - in the UK its 'filesharing' as an excuse to monitor and control everyone...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Indeed it does, Cherie. Hi, Sean. Love your comment! I'm glad you feel better and look forward to reading what you have to say about it chez toi. Hi, Betty. I hope so, too. I will, lakeviewer. I agree, Carmen but any infringement on freedom of speech can lead to much worse things. I ask myself the same question, Nick. Hi, WW. They are using that as an excuse but yes, boo! Thanks, Saretta. It is very worrying. Hi, Sicily Guide. Yes, terrible. You are probably right. Hi, James. I'll be very interested to read what you have to say about it. Hi, Mutley. I didn't realise that. Thanks for the info.

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