Italian Democratic Party’s Competition: faxes aren’t good enough to support a candidate

The Italian online daily magazine announces that Furio Colombo (S-DS) will not run for the future Italian Democratic Party board (the new political entity that next October will merge Margherita and Democratici di sinistra into one, big party.)

The reason is – Repubblica says – that Mr. Colombo got his votes by fax – an unreliable communication device that doesn’t grant non-refutability, integrity and authenticity of the message. Mr. Colombo then claims that since he ain’t a political structure working for him, it was impossible to ride the whole Italy collecting the originals documents containing the “electoral” whishes.

But if only Mr. Colombo – and his supporters – had used digitally signed certified e-mail, he could have run for this competition with no particular problem. Digital signature is “around” since almost ten years, while Certified e-mail (Posta Elettronica Certificata – PEC) is widely available since at least a couple of year. Then it would have been entirely possible to run for the Democratc Party board by handling a digital electoral campaign. Why, then, Mr. Colombo didn’t use it?

Complex answer for a simple question. The deadly mixture of legislator’s lack of competence and Certification Entities wrongly aimed lobby efforts created a poisoned cocktail that almost killed the possibility to have these technologies at handy for the “average” citizen. BTW, nobody seemed really care to actually enhance the use of digital signature and certified e-mail through the citizenship.

And now, we face the early consequences of this non-culture: this is the very first case, in Italy at least, where the technological ignorance had the direct effect of banning a person from the active political life of a country.

Is the “Peppermint case” a scam?

The “cease and desist” letters sent by Peppermint lawyers to the Internet users’ – whose identity has been dislosed by a questionable decision of the Court of Rome – allegedly infringing German label’s copyright contains a legal trick almost unnoticed that expose people to criminal investigations even after having paid what Peppermint’s lawyer ask for.

Peppermint scheme is easy (at least at first glance): you pay us 330 Euros, we file  no legal action against you. The problem is that in Italy copyright’s infringment is a criminal offense and the Public Prosecutor can charge somebody even if the “damaged party” (Peppermint, in this case) states to having waived any claim.

Peppermint and its lawyers, than, cannot enter into an agreement that includes the waiving of  such legal claim because they have no power to waive ALL the possible legal claim. But they completely fail to advise their counterpart on that issue.

The result is that people who already paid the 330 Euros, cannot rest in peace… or do they?

Italian Data Protection Law badly injured… whoduneit?

Last June 5, 2007 the Italian Camera dei deputati (roughly, a sort of US “lower house” equivalent) passed a law to excuse Small Medium Enterprises (SME) employing no more than 15 people from the enforcement of mandatory security measures to protect personal data. To enter in full force the law need to be approved by the Senate, whose decision is exepcted in the very next weeks.

This law has been proposed because – as matter of fact – from 1996 to present days Italian Data Protection Law has become just a bureaucratic issue, made of form to fill, with no actual attention to substantive issus. And – that is worse – the Italian Data Protection Authority did almost nothing in the last twelve years to stop this trend.

The proposed SME’s exemption arouse the furious reaction of ICT security lobbies who claimed that this law endagers the whole Italian communication network “safety”.  This is a grossly misleading claim since data protection law only deals with a limited subset of data an the security measures related provisions basically provide “paper based security”.

True problem is that – on the contrary – Italian Data Protection Law has been drafted and enforced with a distinctive lack of  “reality check”, whose result is that now the Parliament is stepping back on its foot.