Italy's Public Prosecutor Orders ISPs To Block Dozens Of 'Pirate' Websites Just Because He Said So
from the wave-that-magic-wand dept
We’ve already reported on how Italy’s communications watchdog, AGCOM, has assigned itself the power to censor websites based on a copyright infringement claim from a copyright holder, without any sort of judicial due process. However, it appears that Italy’s public prosecutor has decided to go even further and simply order ISPs to censor dozens of websites based solely on his say so that they were sources of infringing materials. No copyright holder made any specific claim about those sites. There doesn’t appear to have been any due process, or really any process at all, other than that the public prosecutor decided which sites were “pirate sites,” and then handed them off to the “Guardia di Finanza” (the financial police, more or less), a part of Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, who went out and ordered ISPs to block access to these sites entirely.
Unfortunately, it looks like this is something of a trend, with law enforcement types suddenly deciding on their own what websites need to be shut down absent any sort of judicial due process. These efforts probably make copyright maximalists happy, but they fly in the face of pretty much all of copyright law. They’re almost entirely based on confusing law enforcement types into believing that copyright is just like “property” and thus that it can treat sites that are somehow connected to possible infringement the same as entities that traffic in stolen merchandise. There are, of course, worlds of difference between the two, but copyright maximalists play on the ignorance of law enforcement officials in these settings, playing up the misleading analogy, leading to vast censorship and a near total lack of due process.