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The deliberation 668/2010 of the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees (AGCOM) in matter of online copyright threatens the freedom of the web.
According to this deliberation, AGCOM would be entitled to remove contents from web pages or to block the access to foreign web sites for Italian users in case of copyright violation, all within 48 hours. The Authority would be free to decide following an administrative procedure, this means that judicial proceedings won’t be required and AGCOM will operate with complete independence from the judiciary system.
No distinction among public web sites, blogs, private pages, web portals. Any web page would be under AGCOM’s control and would be subjected only to the Authority’s censorship rules, bypassing the judges’ pronouncement required until now. A simple report by the copyright owners will be sufficient for proceeding to the removal of the contents or, in case of a foreign web site, to the IP address blockage denying the access to all Italian users.
This measure should come into effect on July 6th making Italy become the first country in the world where an administrative authority can order the removal of a multimedia content from the public telematic space. A sad “world record” for a democratic European country.
AGCOM denies the censorious nature of this measure and explains it away as a necessary and targeted action aimed to fight digital piracy. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also owns the Mediaset Group – the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy -, strongly pushed and supported the measure for obvious commercial and political interests.
The negative effects on freedom of speech and expression on the web could be very heavy. It’s unimaginable what may happen only making a quote or linking a page, or using a song as a video soundtrack for example. All the simple and usual actions we do daily on the web would be subjected to censure. There is no real control warranty and it’s not clear how AGCOM is going to manage the matter.
The web site Agorà Digitale (http://www.agoradigitale.org/) launched a campaign against the web censorship and the AGCOM measure, and from facebook to twitter the users’ mobilization is constantly increasing. Moreover, Anonymous Italy and Lulzsec Italy, two hackers groups united in fighting the measure, started the “Operation Italian Internet Freedom” attacking the AGCOM web site. The two hackers groups asked everybody to join the protest and fight for the right of a free and impartial web. The Authority’s web site is currently not accessible as a consequence of the hackers’ attacks.
Meanwhile, another web site committed in the no censorship campaign www.sitononraggiungibile.it has been victim of a hacker attack. At risk the data and the email addresses of the people who signed a petition against the AGCOM measure through the web site. It seems a real no holds barred war on the web.
In the opinion of many experts and jurists the measure is a threat for the freedom of the web and it should be rejected.The web represents an actual source of freedom and democracy, how is it possible for a democratic country to put into effects a measure like this?