On Feb. 22, 2007 Francesco Rutelli, Italian minister for cultural assets and Prime Minister’s “number two” proudly announced www.italia.it launch. The website – costing approx 45 MILLIONS Euro – has been presentend by politicians (including Ermete Realacci, the head of Legambiente – the biggest environmental NGO and environmental political lobby in Italy) as a true “giant step” in promoting Italy “image” around the world.
Italy is a strange country. The State cares of public health by telling everybody that “smoke kills”, while still holds the legal monopoly in the tobacco manufacturing market.
Following the same “we care” apprach, online gambling has been labeled as THE eviliest thing, able to corrupt young generations, waste worker wages, endanger the public security. Criminal court everywhere in Italy are full of trials where the defendants are charged to having organised “illegal betting services” by opening internet points from where people was privately playing with regular British and other EU-based bookmakers.
Despite the EU Court of Justice said that Italy was wrong in discriminating legally established EU bookmakers, the Corte di cassazione – Italian Supreme Court – ruled that (online) gambling must be punished since endagers the Order of the State. But all of a sudden, these concerns disappeared.
Legge finanziaria 2007 “slightly” amends sect. 38 of Decree 223/2006 by legalising – with a few restrictions – the very same online gaming activities that up to a few weeks before were accused of being “families disgregator”. How was that possible?
Easy: just pay the Government a 3% “gambling tax” on every bet, and all the problems and concerns just disappear. At the end of the day – I can imagine the politicians’ defense – we did our job: we told you not to play. If you don’t follow our advice…the choice is yours!
Sect. 1 para 3 of the Decree Law “Bersani” (named after the ministry who drafted the text) states that users must be free to shift from an ISP to another at their will, just paying anything but the “documented cost” suffered by the ISP (for instance, the remaining cost of the yearly-leased ADSL line). This provision has been celebrated as an effective way to protect consumers, no more forced to pay penalties for their own freedom of choise.
The gov’t seems unaware of a side effects of this decree: big telcos will likely retain from asking for these costs, while small and medium ISP’s – for obvious reasons – don’t. What is likely to happens, then, is that the latters will be cut-out from the user-mobility market, since nobody would subscribe a service, knowing that he have to pay for moving to another provider.
The final chapter of this tale is that – just matter of time – only the big operator will continue to stay on the market, while other players may rest in peace.
Despite I made absolutely clear that I didn’t want to be disturbed, yesterday I got again – for the third or fourth time – a phone call from a person posing as Fastweb (an Italian Telco) representative trying to sell Internet access services.
After being (fairly) rude with the operator, I’ve sent the Data Protection Authority a fax complaining about this blatant infringement of personal data handling.
If an US law enforcement officer wants to tap an American citizen internet account, the officer must play by the books. But If the US officer wants to wiretap an Italian citizen whose account is hosted in the US by an US company, does the USofficer need to respect the US regulations, or, since the target is a foreigner, he’d be free to play as he wishes? As far as I know, the answer is a sound “no”: the law enforcement officer must always comply to the US regulation (at least because the company that hosts the account is american and it is established on the US soil.)
Find a great gimmick through e-bay.com. Close the bid with a seriours seller. Pay the auction ASAP. Get the gimmick delivered straight to your home.
Look for the latest Michael Chricton book. Order on Amazon.com. Have it shipped through the standard shipping. Wait a few weeks and get the book.
What’s wrong with this scenario?
Nothing, unless you live in Italy.
On Jan. 1, 07 the Italian Domain Name Registry set up new rules for Maintainers (ISP’s allowed to sell .it domains). The new “standard agreement” was supposed to bring some order into the former legal mess that ruled the matter (just to name one among the many: in the past TEN YEARS neither the Registry, nor the Data Protection Authority ever handled the WHOIS personal data access problem.); but it seems that a chance has been missed again.
The agreement is, basically, a way to shift any legal liability over the Maintainer’s shoulder, while letting the Registry free of substantive burdens. Further more, the agreement perpetuates the misunderstanding about the “domain ownership” meaning. The Registry – so the agreement says – is the OWNER of the domain that is just USED by the registrant… I really wonder whether Microsoft, IBM, Coca-Cola etc. are actually aware that they don’t own their business name… in Italy, at least.
Current Italian media hype is pumped by the “Telecom Italia scandal”. The criminal investigation is handled by the Public Prosecutor of Milan that invetigates the alleged theft of confidential information and hack of major Italian and foreign companies. Recently, the Public Prosecutor findings led to preemptive jail custody Telecom Italia high-level security officers, employees and out firm security experts hired as consultants. The defendants are charged of running “covert black-ops” on their own, unbeknownst to their employer.
Apart from the merit of the investigation (that belongs to the Court and will likely be ruled not before several years), this criminal investigation itruly demonstrates how the ICT security business in Italy actually works. Companies (big ones, first) don’t really care about IT security. Top management leaves all the relevant decisions to the “IT guys”, while not caring about their own compliance to the security policies.