Italy's Troubling View Of The Internet

from the sucks-to-be-an-internet-startup-in-Italy dept

For some unclear reason, this weekend there was a fair amount of press coverage of the fact that Italian officials are suing The Pirate Bay in court. This lawsuit has been ongoing, so there really isn’t much new — other than the recent verdict in Sweden, which is now in dispute over conflict of interest charges against the judge in the case. In Italy, the case first made news last summer, when a prosecutor on the case ordered ISPs to start blocking The Pirate Bay. However, what was really odd was that ISPs weren’t just told to block the site, but to funnel all the traffic to a site run by the major record labels. That was quite questionable. Even if The Pirate Bay were found to be illegal, to hand that traffic over to the labels raises plenty of ethical questions. Either way, a judge rejected the ban for the time being, though it could be reinstated later.

But what’s struck me is how many of these sorts of stories have been coming out of Italy lately, raising lots of questions about officials there and how they view the internet. The other high profile case involves the decision to charge Google execs with criminal charges because some kids put up a questionable video on YouTube — which YouTube took down within hours of finding out about it (and, which officials used to track down the kids who misbehaved in the video). It’s difficult to think up any reason that would make Google execs criminally liable for a video of dumb kids being uploaded to its site. We’re still wondering why other tools used in the video aren’t also being charged (for example, one part of the video involved kids throwing a tissue box at a disabled boy — so, clearly, the execs at the tissue-maker should be equally liable).

However, that’s hardly all of the oddities coming out of Italy lately. Of course, like France, the country is looking to implement a three strikes law, but has also required all blogs to register with the government. Then there were the folks who ran an online music store, where they had officially licensed the music for sale, but the IFPI claimed they didn’t get all the right licenses, and an Italian court sent them to jail for this (rather than just fining them or passing an injunction). Oh right, and Italian cops have been asking for a back door to listen to Skype calls. And… finally, recently we wrote about a law that the gov’t was considering that would ban anonymity online in Italy — and it just so happened that the law was written by entertainment industry representatives. Add all these up, and it seems that Italy appears to be an incredibly anti-Internet country. You’d have to imagine that can’t be good for business.

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Comments on “Italy's Troubling View Of The Internet”

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27 Comments
Giovanni Atalmi (user link) says:

From an italian

Italian’s most favourite sport isn’t football, it’s sueing people for anything and everything. The law system is all fu**d up (the prime minister is a criminal himself and there are many like him in the parlament).
I’m italian, but I was lucky enough to live 8 years in the UK and now in Spain, so I’ve opened my eyes.
I work in web and new technologies and my job wouldn’t exist in Italy. This is why they’re so behind on web and overall on economic growth compared to the rest of Europe.
It’s shameful. A lot of professionals and researchers, frustrated by how things work there, leave Italy and go work somewhere else. Like I did.
Let them argue and sue one another, I haven’t got time to waste.

gilez says:

another Italian..

Easy to explain: my country is ruled by a dictator, mr. “papi” Berlusconi, who is the owner of all traditional media (all TV channels, many newspapers). He is ignorant and hostile to Internet, the only channel he cannot control. Italians are ignorant and supponent. Btw, I have run away. Italy is a good place for holidays, nothing else

Stefano Quintarelli (user link) says:

I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

I must say that

1) is it that strange that someone investigates to learn if TPB is legal or not ?

2) it is simply not true that ISPs were told to direct traffic to a specific web site. Some did, for convenience; no order was issued from the court. and no, TPB is not presently banned in Italy, as the opponent lost in appeal.

3) yes, youtube managers were charged for … for what ? fact is that the terms and conditions of youtube at that time did not make users responsible for some of their acts that, according to some european laws (including italy), are illegal. It’s like you’re running an upload&share site with no disclaimer on copyright. You become responsible (unless you have users check a box which says they will not upload illegal stuff). And how could that happen ? Multinationals often go to international law firms that make young lawyers translate US terms and conditions. Failing to consider that in europe we generally have civil law and not common law… if you think that’s not possible, please consider that until very recently, for example, Facebook’s T&Cs in italian contained large parts which where translated with an automatic translator…
Who is to blame ?

4) In Italy there’s no plan to implement the three strikes like in france. Mr. Bobbio, a member of the government team, recently declared that adopting the “Sarkozy doctrine is a dangerous legal acrobacy; …its effectiveness in france is yet to be shown… at the technical level doubts are even larger… one of the fundamental principles we cannot give up and that need to be defined by law is that of network neutrality so that the option of repressive intervention on the network does not become a damaging shortcut …”.
Of course, in more than 900 members of the parliament there are a couple of them that are proposing bills which raise a big opposition and a lot of noise, but non of them has had any chance to be approved. (I think we could very well compare with restrictive bills proposed in the US parliament that have not become laws…)

5) in the turin case, where the infringer was paying just a very small part of the rights he was supposed to pay, no one was sent to jail. (what happens if you pay just a small part of your taxes in the US ?). In the case, he paid the license to operate the shop, but failed to pay record labels for their rights…

6) the post you link correctly highlights that it’s the **german** police that was in talks with some supplier of wiretapping technology. the italian minister for interior has formed a working group to analyze the issue and study technical and regulatory approaches to internet voip wiretapping, something they have proposed at the european level. that happened just one week after it was reported that NSA wanted to wiretap skype calls.

7) the government has never considered a law to ban anonimity; that was one in tens of thousands proposals that was made by one of the 900+ members of the parliament which caused fierce reaction. please see point 4 above.

FYI, tech-savvy members of parliament have formed a cross-coalition group “Intergruppo parlamentare 2.0” with the purpose of raising tech knowledge in non tech colleagues.

feel free to email me for details or documentation on all what I reported.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

1) is it that strange that someone investigates to learn if TPB is legal or not ?

It is when TPB is based in SWEDEN and not ITALY. You see the internet is global, and like it or not Italian law or even for that matter EU Law does not rule it.

2) it is simply not true that ISPs were told to direct traffic to a specific web site. Some did, for convenience; no order was issued from the court. and no, TPB is not presently banned in Italy, as the opponent lost in appeal.

Oh, so because the court didn’t order them to redirect traffic, and they just did it on their own that’s OK then. And convenient for whom? For what? It makes no sense to redirect all traffic from a website to the entertainment industry out of convenience. Seems to me that speaks volumes about the mentality of the Italian government, nay overlords when it comes to the internet and copyright.

3) yes, youtube managers were charged for … for what ?… Who is to blame ?

You don’t even know yourself why they were charged but still can’t figure out who to blame? How about the fucktards that uploaded the video? Why was it any issue at all considering Google took it down as soon as it was brought to their attention it was there and what the content was? All your lame excuses and apologizing for the Italian government’s over zealous prosecution just goes to show you’re obviously biased for ANYTHING they do, no matter how stupid or pointless.

…Rest of argument ignored do to extreme bias blah blah blah, stop wasting everyone’s time. Although I guess I can’t blame you for getting your propaganda out while you can, I’m sure the Italian govn’t will ban the internet all together pretty soon.

Stefano Quintarelli (user link) says:

Re: Re: I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

1) FYI, the idea that the applicable legislation is that of the country where the server is, has been outdated by jurisprudence.

2) do you know how many did ? it was the first time and someone asked “what should we do ?” – “point them to a page like this” and the technicians found it easier to redirect to an existing page. BTW, this fact has been brought to the attention of the privacy authority.

3) I just wanted to point out that discussions have raised without knowledge of the acts. I discussed the issue with lawyers from both parties and, as I am not a lawyer, I will not express an opinion, except for what I expressed above.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

1) FYI, the idea that the applicable legislation is that of the country where the server is, has been outdated by jurisprudence.

Oh really? So Italian laws now apply worldwide, eh? I don’t think so.

By the way, I notice that although your blog has a .it domain name, it is actually hosted on a server in the US. How ironic. Even you don’t want to use a server in Italy.

…the technicians found it easier to redirect to an existing page.

Just how stupid do you think Techdirt readers are? It is just as easy, or even easier, to simply redirect it to a 404 page or something similar. It is now obvious that you are deceitful.

Stefano Quintarelli (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

no, italian laws are applicable to persons who are in the italian territory, regardless if they use gmail or typepad or ebay. and yes, most of envolved ISPs correctly redirected to a page saying that the site was subject to a “sequestro preventivo”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I am the past president of Italy's ISPs association; I work in telecom regulations in Italy and ...

no, italian laws are applicable to persons who are in the italian territory, regardless if they use gmail or typepad or ebay.

“For some unclear reason, this weekend there was a fair amount of press coverage of the fact that Italian officials are suing The Pirate Bay in court.”

The Pirate Bay isn’t “in the italian territory”.

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