Here we are. Words are spreading that EU will push to enforce “censorship on words”. On 10 Sept., 2007 Reuters quoted a statement made by EU Commissioner Franco Frattini (Italian, sadly) who claimed:
?I do intend to carry out a clear exploring exercise with the private sector … on how it may be possible to use technology to prevent people from using or searching dangerous words like bomb, kill, genocide or terrorism ?.
I can think of no better comment on that, but the one made by ALCEI:
Mr. Frattini’s suggestion is unacceptable, extremely dangerous and a serious threat against free speech. The “internet-teaches-how-to-make bombs” nonsense has been around since the net’s early years. Along with “copyright infringements” and misrepresented child protection urges – as ALCEI denounced over ten years ago. The “internet-bomb” issue has always been one of the excuses to invoke censorship and repression.
It is obvious – and largely proven by facts – that “filtering” or “prohibiting” words or concepts is totally useless against criminals, while it turns into a weapon to kill freedom of information and expression. Preventing all citizens from discussing controversial topics doesn’t reduce violence, murder or terrorism.
Peter Fleischer’s answer (Google’s Global Privacy Counsel) – as quoted by the Italian newspaper Repubblica.it – is not less concerning:
“There are a lot of reason why sombody might want to search on the Internet a word like “genocide”, for teaching purposes, say. According to Fleischer, the problem is to prevent some information to be released on line – such the bomb-making-how-to”. “But if a page is no the web” – he said – “Google must be allowed to search for it” (Translation from Italian by Andrea Monti. Please check the link above for the original text.)
It seems that Google might cope with censorship, as soon as the net is not affected.
Am I wrong?
Rumors say that mr. Bersani (DS) currenty Minister of economic growth, is pushing to make “certified e-mail” use mandatory for companies and professionals. Confirmation came when the Parliament rejected – de facto – the proposal, by making certified e-mail usage an option thanks to an amendment proposed by a leftist MP, Maurizio Acerbo (Rifondazione Comunista).
“Certified e-mail” (a borbonic and bureaucratic tech-crap) is a method to give “legal value” and “certain timestamp” to an e-mail message. There are plenty of ways to achieve this result with a minimum economic and technical effort, but Italy choose the opposite.
Should Mr. Bersani atteimpt be succesful, it would have been an EU forbidden State’s support to private companies since only a couple or so of big entities (namely Postecom and Infocamere) would have had substantial benefit from an artificially created market-niche.
Here is (Italian only) the Parliament session trascription addressing the issue.
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.
The result, as everybody can experiment on his own, is just a crappy website, as the Italian online community quickly (and sadly) discovered. And at what cost!
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.