Increased level of online censorship in Italy

AGCOM, Italy’s independent Electronic Communications Authority, is on the verge of undertaking the power of ordering the removal of any online content that it deems to be in violation of the copyright law, without the need of the parliament or court approval.

Despite strong criticism from NGOs, ISPs, other companies or legal practitioners, the authority’ new Draft Regulation on Copyright Protection on Electronic Communication Networks allows it to black out foreign sites and take down Italian ones alleged to have infringed the copyright law, within 48 hours, without any court decision.

The legislation is to be passed definitively in November 2013 after a decision from the European Union. AGCOM’s bill will give the authority the power to order Internet access providers to disclose private information about subscribers and give them to the right holders. Any website “inciting, aiding and abetting” copyright infringement, even indirectly” will permit its complete seizure.

An alliance of organizations including the consumer groups, lawyers, and business have initiated a campaign to oppose the measures introduced by the bill which risk to turn ISPs into online censors, are totally inefficient and may lead to over-blocking and abuse.

The alliance has also sent an open letter to Laura Boldrini, the president of the lower house of the Italian Parliament urging the assembly to take the matter into its own hands and suspend the draft regulation.

On 1 October 2013, EDRi member Article 19 issued a detailed opinion on the bill showing concern that it “provides for the blocking of entire websites, domain names or IP addresses. These measures are both ineffective and deeply inimical to free expression due to the high risks of over-blocking. We are also concerned that blocking powers would be entrusted to a regulator rather than the courts.”

In more disturbing news from Italy on the stupid IPR enforcement measures, on the 17 October 2013, following a complaint from the music industry group FIMI, several big torrent sites were put on the ISPs blacklist by orders of the Bergamo court. Besides ExtraTorrent, 1337x, H33T, TorrentHound, Italian ISPs may have to block a whole range of IP addresses associated with The Pirate Bay, including some with authorized content. (such as their mail server). The Observatory on The Internet Censorship In Italy counts now over 6000 websites that are being blocked in Italy.

Source: EDRI-gram “Increased level of online censorship in Italy“ Number 11.20, October 23, 2013


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