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Will the Mafia Spark an Italian Ban on YouTube?

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A new bill working its way through the Italian government could force Internet service providers to block access to sites such as YouTube and Facebook if those sites incite or justify criminal behavior, Bloomberg reports:

The bill says the Interior Ministry will be able to order the blocking of Web sites if prosecutors first verify the criminal content of the sites. The bill would also make it illegal to incite others to commit crimes on the Internet, [Senator Gianpiero] D’Alia said. It would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, he said.

The whole kerfuffle stems from Italian prosecutors’ examination of Facebook groups dedicated to convicted Sicilian Mafia bosses.

Problems arise because the law is aimed at ISPs, which, if they fail to block out offending sites they could be fined as much as 250,000 euros ($322,338). As one European policy consultant pointed out to Bloomberg, ISPs can’t filter out single elements of a site, rather, the entire platform must be blocked.

Italy is becoming a hotbed of legal activity for YouTube and parent company Google (s GOOG). Four former and current Google executives are on trial there over an online video depicting the bullying of a disabled teenager. And the Italian television company Mediaset filed a $779 million copyright infringement suit against YouTube last summer.

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