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