The President of the Italian Low Chamber, Blodrini, holds Google and Facebook “ethically liable” for what the users do online

According to Laura Boldrini (left wing), President of the Italian Low Chamber, Google and Facebook are ethically liable for what the users do online. Talking about the (venerable) online hoaxes phenomenon, she verbatim stated:

 They are not telcos, they have an ethical and social liability. While obviously it isn’t only their fault if hoaxes are spreading. 1

This is not the first time that Boldrini tries to extend the liability of the users to ISP, Telcos and Over the top operators and this last statement lead to think that there should be an actual agenda on this topic.

But the concept of “moral/ethic liability”  is both religious and individual, and in a democratic country where the rule of Law is supreme, is not supposed to be taken into account. On the contrary,  following a precise script, this is what we face every time that the Internet is involved: public outcry first, ethical issue next and, finally, an “ethical” regulation.

In the specific case, Boldrini’s position is wrong from whatever the side you look at it.

It is ethically dangerous because weakens the legal principle of the individual’s personal liability, thus reinforcing users’ idea that online there is no accountability.

It is legally unfeasible, because the e-commerce directive made crystal clear that ISPs cannot be forced to monitor and verify each single act of a user, and the data protection directive says, again, crystal clear, that the data protection regulation doesn’t apply to individual’s data processing (in other word: the law doesn’t work for a Facebook’s post made by a user.)

It is market’s sinking. Italy has already proven to be unable to join the digital economy race, and this regulatory approach from Boldrini is another dead weight to the Italian Telco industry.

  1. Non sono compagnie telefoniche, hanno una responsabilità morale e sociale. Anche se ovviamente non è soltanto colpa loro se si diffondono le bufale.

What “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” actually mean

A lot of people – politicians, “gurus” and “activists” use the word “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” without having read even the cover of a George Orwell’s book.

They rather want to have a look at this TED-ed short lesson, to discover what they’re actually talking about.

Is The IPhone Criminals’ Weapon of Choice?

According to NBC, Apple has been ordered by a federal judge to support the FBI in decrypting the Iphone used by the people accused of having slaughtered 14 people in San Bernardino, California, last December, 2, 2015. The court order has been necessary since Apple refused to voluntarily provide such support.

These are the bare facts, that have been turned into a horse of different colours by  bad-faith anti and pro encryption activist. The former sang the usual song “Strong Encryption Smooths Criminals”(FBI Records), while the latter waged the old flag “Weak Encryption Affects Civil Rights”.

The federal court neither asked for a backdoor nor for the enforcement  of a weaker Iphone security, but just said Apple to support the after-crime investigation. This court order doesn’t hampers people’s legal right to strong encryption, because the justice said something like “you have the right to own a strong safe, but the State has the right to try to open it whatever the mean in case of a criminal investigation”. In this context, then, the fact that Apple has been ordered to provide support to the FBI is not constitutionally illegal.

I still support strong encryption for the masses (and for companies too), but I don’t think that making a case out of this court order might help the civil right cause. It only works as as a (maybe unintended) advertising stunt for Apple that can portray itself as a “privacy shield”.

The Web is ISIS’s Nuclear Bomb

The Web is ISIS’s Nuclear Bomb. This is what Loretta Napoleoni, author of books on the economic side of terrorism, wrote in an article for the leftwinger Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Napoleoni claims that – as the Marxist ideology did in the past with the “word-of-mouth” or, better, “word-of-book” – ISIS’s propaganda gets its power from a new “ideology-spreading-tool”: the Internet, and thank to the Internet will last, no matter what:

Even though, hypothetically, we should succeed in taking out all of ISIS’s warriors by bombing them and killing al Baghdadi, the ideology that these people have created and their universal message will last on the Internet. 1

I don’t have enough authority to challenge the curious association Napoleoni did between Karl Marx philosophy and ISIS’s vision of the Islamic religion, but I find grossly superficial and offensive for the victims of (every) war to compare “the Web” to a nuclear bomb.

As I wrote in a post, war is made of bullets, and bullets hurt as do (nuclear) bombs. Bombs make carnage, slaughters, shred a human being in pieces, burn, annihilate, vaporize, wipe communities, blindly kill innocents, pollute lands for centuries or millennia (ask Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors for additional info, just in case.) E-mail, newsgroups, chats, FTP (yes, Napoleoni, the Internet is not only made by HTTP) are tool of freedom designed by free people to give humans a free chance to communicate with no physical and social barrier.

Those like Napoleoni – and her cultural associates, member of the “Internet-as-a-threat Club” – should simply accept the fact that ideas are countered (and sometimes, fought) with ideas and that the worst way to challenge a disturbing statement is to censor it.

The idea that a sole statement might change somebody’s personal philosophy up to turning him into a human bomb carrier is simply wrong. Change of mind happens by way of  tragedies, loneliness, apartheid and injustice and not because of a tweet.

As per the “Internet Patrolling” advocated (not only) by Napoleoni – though sadly labelled by her as ineffective – again, let’s go back to basics: as the East Germany, Russian and Italian political police history show, to fight an enemy and prevent attacks there is no substitute for an actual, massive, ruthless and pervasive physical control. But t this is disturbing and, rightly so, nobody in the Western world is available to give a government so much power.

And here comes the brilliant solution: let’s fall back on the Internet and blame “the Web” as a radicalization tool.

No, Napoleoni, ideologies will not last because of a blog. They will stand until there will be inequality in world, it means until the end of time.

  1. Orginal text in Italian: Anche se, ipoteticamente, riuscissimo a stanare con le bombe tutti i guerrieri dello Stato Islamico e a far fuori al Baghdadi, l’ideologia che costoro hanno creato ed il loro messaggio universale in rete rimarrà

The Internet As an Intrinsic Threat: Yesbutters vs Whynotters

Italian politcians’ mantra, starting from the Chair of the Low Chamber, Boldrini and down to local parties’ minions is “The Internet is an opportunity but…” and then a stream flows of statement like “we need to regulate it”, “we need to keep it free for the righteous citizen”, “we must block hate speeches” and so on.

This reminds me of an old, untitled essay I read on Giancarlo Livraghi’s gandalf.it:

Yesbutters don’t just kill ideas.
They kill companies, even entire industries.
The yesbutters have all the answers.
Yesbut we’re different. Yesbut we can’t afford it.
Yesbut our business doesn’t need it.
Yesbut we couldn’t sell it to our workforce.
Yesbut we can’t explain it to our shareholders.
Yesbut let’s wait and see.
All the answers. All the wrong answers.

For the positive part, dedicated to the Whynotters, just follow this link.

Microsoft Blog Post on Safe Harbour. A Different Perspective

The collapse of the US-EU Safe Harbor: Solving the new privacy Rubik’s Cube is a post on the official Microsoft’s blog that is gaining momentum since it is possibly the first “cooled down” analysis of the EUCJ decision on Safe Harbour. Though well articulated, nevertheless, I think that the “hook” where the chain of reasoning hangs is weak.

I don’t think we should go for “global laws” because of the technological evolution.

“Global laws” means “Single Government” or, in other words, the end of democracy.

From a legal standpoint, the technological evolution is irrelevant because technology only affects the way things are done and not the right to do it.

You don’t need to amend the provision that punishes killing or manslaughtering everytime that somebody figure out some “creative” mode to put a R.I.P. stone over somebody else head. Or, dealing with the technological “evolution”, you don’t need a new provision to sanction hate speeches, personal life intrusions, libel and defamation, stalking and so on “just” because of the Internet. The illegal behaviours were already there before the computer era.

Furthermore, we all know that law is rather Lobbyists’s pressures, political mediation, economic and financial differences driven, than God-inspired.

Guess who would going to write this “Global Regulation”?

Why the Right To Be Forgotten Is Plain Wrong (and What Is the Best Way to Protect Your Reputation)

The Right to be forgotten – not a “right” per se, by the way – is a distorted way to enforce the right to privacy and an actual form of censorship because strips from the Court’s hands the power to decide what should be known and what shouldn’t and, further more, is a way to enforce a bottoms-up censorship that a State can easily turn into a top-down dissent shutting.

The Right to be forgotten is the wrong answer to a (maybe) real question: how do you get rid of your embarrassing past if I’ve changed course of life?

Answer: instead of trying to hide the dust under the carpet by removing the search engines’ indexes, just use it at your advantage: run a blog, a social network page or whatever elicit the interest of the search engines’ robots and tell your story. This way you can counterbalance the (allegedly) negative effect of a news relating to you because a search engine will reveal  your side of the story too.

This, of course, if you are sincere in your life-changing effort because, if you’re not,  you might find yourself exposed again to the consequences of your con stunt.

Is the solution to the Right to be forgotten actually as simple as that?

No, because to do so you should be able to properly handle an argument, collect and provide evidences and effectively deliver your statement. And since Cicero’s adepts aren’t that much, it is better to go for the censorship solution: cheaper, faster and good for the powers-that-be.

How Do Cameron and Obama Are Going to Forbid This?

cipherThis is – the news is as recent as today – what the Italian Polizia di Stato found during a Ndrangheta (organized crime from Calabria) related investigation.

Although the cipher, in this case, is not that hard to handle for an expert codebreaker it shows that “old school” systems still work.

So, following the announced ban of side-to-side encryption application made by US Presidente Obama and UK Prime Minister Cameron (coupled with the statement by Italian Home Affair Ministry) I wonder how they’re going to fight this “new”, dangerous way to exploit the encryption.

Maybe outlawing paper and pencil?

The (Italian) Internet Bill of Rights To Get Momentum

Starting from Oct. 27 and for the next four months ahead, the “Commissione per i diritti e i doveri relativi ad Internet” (Commission for the rights and duties related to the Internet) of the Italian low chamber launched a series of hearing with the major Italian and European players to gather information and suggestion about this “revolutionary” initiative.

I wander who will have the … gut to tell them that:

  • there is no “mr. Internet”, the Internet as such being just a protocol,
  • the Internet doesn’t have rights. People do,
  • the European Convention of Human Rights already contains all the legal guarantee for a free (and law-abiding) use of the communication technologies, thus there is no need for another piece of nasty bureaucratic legislation,
  • the actual problem of the online ecosystem is the (still present) lack of a true commitment of the law enforcement and judicial community to properly understand the technical side of the issue so to create a reasonable case law,
  • the telco and ISP industry is paying a huge financial and technical cost for the illiteracy of lawmakers, public authorities, judges and law enforcers, with no actual benefit for the society,
  • these issues have been raised since 1994 and ahead, but nobody in the powers-that-be realm was available to hear it.

Let’s wait and see…

The Roman Catholic Church Knows Better (about privacy and the Internet)

Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, the secretary of the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (the permanent assembly of Roman Catholic Bishops) stated that (my translation)

The Internet is useful and effective, but the price we pay in term of privacy is huge

and, talking about the Data Protection Authority, he said

I don’t understand what these useless entities are worth for.

Of course he’s right, but the Italian Data Protection Commissioner (obviously) has a different opinion claiming that (again, my translation)

It is rather odd to call as useless the only entity that – within its powers – has always defended the human dignity from the “mud machine” 1, and from the plots arranged by those who want to turn the Internet into a space of violence and outlaws, form the totalitarian logic of the man-in-a-fishbowl.

Is this the same Data Protection Authority that failed to address the issues of the Telindus Router, the Android Spyware Case, The Pirate Bay Case, the Aruba Case, the Sony BMG rootkit case, that didn’t say a single word (while being informed) about the security concerns in relationship to the upcoming massive, trial-related personal data flood originated by the online shift of the Italian Civil Trial System, and that wasn’t able to prevent the leak of a confidential report?

 

  1. The reference is to a journalism idiomatic meaning the use of the media machine to soil somebody’s reputation