Why “Olivennes Bill” wouldn’t work in Italy

Olivennes Bill” (named after the French lobbyist who proposed it) on copyright protection has been blocked by the French Parliament a couple of days ago (but there is little doubt that French Government will try to have it approved ASAP.) If  (better, when) passed, this bill would have enforced a “parallel indictemnt system” handled by an “independent” authority called HADOPI acting as an actual Justice Court, that is given the power to decide, without a fair trial, whether a person deserves to be disconnetted by the Internet after being warned twice by copyright holder through the concerned Internet Access Provider.

Entertainment Industry lobbyists like this approach very much and are pushing hard to have Italy enforce it too. “The Problem” is – fortunately – that Olivennes Bill Italian version’s  would be affected by serious legal and Constitutional flaws, thus making it impossible to pass, for a number of reasons.

First, Italian Code of electronic communication (L.259/03) sect. 4 para I letters f) g) and h) make network neutrality mandatory. To impose over Access Providers’  shoulder filtering duties or any other technological activity limiting the way Italian Public Network (rete pubblica di comunicazioni) works, would be what the Code calls “discrimination among specific technologies” and “forcing the use of a particular technology against others”.

Second, the Access Providers would be forced to report the Public Authorities their users’ criminal behaviour by fault of cross-combination between legislative decree 70/2003 1 and sect. 171 bis et al. of Law 633/41. 2 Legislative Decree 70/2003, in fact, makes Access Provider non-automatically accountable for its users’ actions, provided that he doesn’t willingly become part of it. Furthermore, the Decree says that the Access Provider must report to the police forces any criminal misconducts as soon as he’s been given sound evidence of a criminal behaviour committed by an Internet user, thus forcing the prosecutor to start a criminal investigation. All this, is possible because Italian Copyright infringement provisions are “designed” to be mandatory investigated by the Public Prosecutor. 3Then, should Italy enforces an Olivennes-like legislation, there would be a “double trial” for the same (alleged) fact: the first – real – under a Court scrutiny, the second – “mock” – run by an “independent” authority, leading to a conflict of public powers.

Third, as a side question, nobody told Mr. Olivennes that his bill is oddly similar to ancient Western Europe Barbarian laws, where didn’t matter who the actual culprit was, because the victim had the right to retaliate against any other culprit’s family member. This is what Mr. Olivennes proposes: to seclude a whole family or company from the Internet, for the (alleged) wrongdoing of a single member.

Not bad, as an exercise on democracy.

  1. enforcing EU directive 31/00 on e-commerce and access/content providers online liability
  2. Italian Copyright Law
  3. Italian Penal Code contains two “kind” of crimes: the first one is composed by very serious misconducts such as homicide and money laundering – to name a few – that must be investigated no matter if the victim ask for it. Second one is composed of serious crimes too, whose investigation begininnig is in victim’s own hands. In other words, if the victim of a theft doesn’t ask the public prosecutor to start investigating the crime, nothing happens, even if a policeman or a magistrate knows that the fact actually happened.

Italian Politicians to storm the Internet

There is a disturbing trend in Italy. Every now and then, for the most various reasons, a politician feels compelled to propose a bill  “regulating” the Internet. 

In a previous post I addressed the issues arisen by Cassinelli and D’Alia bills in re: Internet censorship. A few weeks after, more colleagues followed their lead. 

Former showpersons – now MPs of Berlusconi’s party – proposes free speech and anonimity regulation “to protect minors” (but fact shows that they’re mostly concerned of copyright.) 

Between January and March 2009 Luca Barbareschi (actor) and Gabriella Carlucci (anchor woman), proposed two draft laws whose declared intent was to enforce copyright protection by shutting down civil liberties. 

Mr. Barbareschi proposal creates a “single point of cultural control” by granting the Italian State backed royalty collecting agency, the role of exclusive gateway between artists and market. Furthermore, Mr. Barbareschi’s draft law contains so loose statements about ISPs liability that the Government is allowed to do basically whatever he wants. 

More dangerous, if possible, is Mrs. Carlucci draft law that wants to ban anonymity from the Net, refusing even to consider intermediate forms such as “protected anonymity” (where the ISP act as trusted third party). Mrs. Carlucci want to establish a committee under the Communication Authority with power of interpreting Internet-related law (in Italy, only magistrates and the Parliament is supposed to), receiving “confidential notice” of infringement, acting as Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, counseling magistrates about the enforcement of preemptive activities ruled under rule of evidence code, like searches and seizure, termporary jail restriction etc.)

Again, on March 19 2009, MP’s Beatrice Lorenzin, Manlio Contento e Enrico Costa (all belonging to Mr. Berlusconi’s party) proposed a bill to filter minor’s access to websites suggesting though weight-loss techniques. Of course this was done to “protect minors”.

On the other (political) side, on March, 27 2009 Vincenzo Vita and Luigi Vimercati (both belonging to the Democratic Party),  proposed a bill to respect network neutrality and use open source in public administration. Oddly enough, this proposal comes too late, since both Mr. Vita and Mt. Vimercati ran institutional offices under the centre-left central Government and local administrations. When both Mr. Vita and Mr. Vimercati had the actual chance to do something effective, they did nothing, while their colleagues promoted proprietary software (Mr. Mussi as Minister of university and Mr. Nicolais as  Minister of innovation) and severely injured human rights by forcing Italian ISPs to block access to controversial websites, without a court order (Mr. Gentiloni, now Democratic Party, Minister of communication.)