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.