The end of online anonymity in Italy?


What Italian member of parliament Gabriella Carlucci touts as a law to limit online pedophilia appears to be the latest government attempt to stifle online piracy. If passed, the law would substantially reduce the privacy and freedom of the Italian people.

Prohibition of anonymity is integral to the proposal. If approved, Carlucci’s law will make it illegal to post online any content without a sure way to ID who posted and produced the material. Internet service providers and websites owners will be held responsible if anonymous content is posted.image

Before she became a member of parliament, Carlucci worked as showgirl and TV host on Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi’s TV networks. Many Italian people dismiss her speeches about curbing pedophilia online as rhetoric. This talk is contrary to what they believe to be the true agenda of the law: protecting major players in music and movie industries.

The online Italian community is abuzz with anger about this politicking. Most upsetting has been the Microsoft Word file circulating online containing the initial proposal. It appeared to have been written by Davide Rossi. He is a key executive of Univideo, the Italian union for the movie industry. The .doc file contained metadata with his name and company listed as author of the document.

According to Punto Informatico, a leading online Italian magazine about Internet and technology, this proposal is absurd. It’s unfair for the government to ask citizens to identify themselves online without giving them the necessary technology to do that. It’s also impractical. Reading the proposed law to the letter, it’s almost impossible to achieve. The required level of identification on blogs, forums and social networks is impossible.

Such legislation is, unfortunately, typically Italian. It is a country where strict laws are often implemented but enforcement is loose and inconsistent. This practice leaves honest citizens confused and defenceless.

It is also excessive to require Italian citizens to identify themselves every time they comment on a YouTube video or post in a discussion forum. This would violate the Italian Constitution, narrow freedom of speech and establish a permanent “Big Brother” online.

It seems Carlucci and her clumsy friend Davide Rossi wrote this law forgetting that the EU has ruled that ISPs cannot be held responsible for the actions of their customers. Italy, as a founding member of the EU, should be an example to newcomers to the union. It should not violate the EU rules it helped to create.

It’s also fun to notice that Carlucci’s party, funded by Silvio Berlusconi, is called “Popolo delle Libertà” (literally “People of Freedoms”). This is not the first time they’ve tried to harm the core values they pretend to protect.