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Italy revolts over sneak return of ‘blog killer’ law

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Italian bloggers are up in arms after ministers secretly resurrected their attempts to introduce a new law dubbed the “blog killer” by critics.

The proposed legislation would force online publications, whether large or small, to amend information on their sites within 48 hours of a complaint — or face fines of €12,000 ($15,700).

The “ammazza blog” amendment was first mooted a few years ago by the government of Silvio Berlusconi, but ended up being crowded out by opponents who said it would be used to punish small publications, bloggers or even social networks.

A brief attempt to turn the proposals into law last year hit the same roadblock, yet this week it was discovered that the clause had been quietly reintroduced into a draft bill on wiretapping and gag laws.

Here’s Il Fatto Quotidiano:

The law provides that each site owner is required to rectify any content on the basis of a simple request from anyone who considers themselves wronged. There is no chance to reply: anyone who does not rectify what they have published within 48 hours will pay up to €12,0000 fine.

An example could be this: a website could publish a story about somebody who had been arrested and was being held in jail, but if the individual’s lawyer wrote to say it was not true, the website would be forced to publish the correction or face the penalty.

Because the law does not seem to discriminate between complaints that have a basis in reality and those that are factually incorrect — or give publishers room to verify the truth, they are concerned that it could effectively gag bloggers, newspapers and magazines from ever publishing anything potentially controversial.

Bloggers worry that if they take a few days off they may end up being slapped with egregious fines, or could end up having to deal with constant queries from troublemakers intended to tie them up for fear of suddenly being hit with a penalty.

Unlike some arguments between bloggers and public officials, however, this is not some minor policy squabble — and has been picked up by the famous politician Antonio Di Pietro, who made his name as part of the anti-corruption investigation known as Mani pulite (“clean hands”) in the 1990s.

According to La Repubblica, Di Pietro came out all guns blazing.

“Hands off the network”, thundered Di Pietro, railing against “the heinous murder of blogging that was previously desired by the Berlusconi government. The web is a bulwark of democracy — one of the few spaces that allows citizens to get information and have their say.”

4 Responses to “Italy revolts over sneak return of ‘blog killer’ law”

  1. Bill Stokes

    How can this work if the server is hosted outside of Italy? Secondly, if the law was passed then it would make it incredibly easy to take down any site. All you have to do is swamp it with complaints don’t you?

    • Bobbie Johnson

      I’m not sure about server jurisdiction versus residency of the publisher, will find out more.

      But I think your second point is one of the major worries — effectively that it promotes nuisance complaints.

  2. I felt that this was coming. We live in a State where politicians make 15/20k € a month with privileges usually reserved to queens and kings like retirement pensions of 15k€ per month while a person who has worked 40 years will be asked to postpone his/ her retirement for one or two more years and will earn less than 1000€ per month.
    Politicians are asking for hars sacrifices amid a crisis that is putting families on their knees and sends entrepenurs oppressed by debts to the “suicide lane”.
    Recently the parties wanted to approve financial support bill that would put 100 millin€ in the corrupted pocket of politicians who are there ( in the parliament) only to make themselves richer and richer everyday.
    The Romans, back almost two thousand year ago wrote the “golden rule” for governing a Country and the whole world:
    “dividi et imperat” .
    By having social classes clashing against one another they manage to do as they wish, raising taxes, the gas prices (now at € 1.90 per liter/ 8.50 dollar a gallon)and managing to steal public money by the millions.
    I would not be surprised if these social tensions will lead back to an increase of anger that might give birth to new forms of terrorism like we saw back in the Seventies with the “red brigades”.
    The revolution of today is fought trough the megapixels and the gigabytes running at the speed of light troughout the planet as citizens aware of their power trhough the Web will not be put to silence by stupid laws. Be aware corrupted, thieves, leeches and vultures of the Italian People. If you try to stop the Web the boomerang will hit you harder than any stone, or bullet. If you try to silence the blog and the freedom of thought it will backfire right in to your fat asses and your obese bellies. Give people a sign of peace by returning the money you are taking from them on the daily base.Take that 100 million € and give 4000 families 25k€ each. Start a new trend and get rid of all the politicians who are there for 20/30/40 years, and hire a new generation of people willing to make 1/2 thousand € a month and willing to step aside aftet two terms.
    More than anything else though, do not interfere with the freedom given to the people by the Web. If you silence me in Italy I will make so much noise in the USA or in Australia, even if I’d have to move there to express my thought. If you want to stop us on the web you will have to be ready to eliminate us phisically. Are you ready for that?

  3. Wouldn’t the solution be to simply register a .com under an anonymous name? Driving people underground is the worst thing they can do. Revolutions are born in such ways.