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.

“Certified e-mail” mandatory by law?

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.

There’s no Second Life after Life…

Network veterans – those who “were there” before the Internet came – will tell you that Second Life is nothing new. A contemporary re-play of “old style” Fidonet Matrix, command-line IRC, newsgroups and mailing-lists, with a more fashionable look. A “virtual place” where people go social.

I don’t share this point of view. Instead of a “game”, Second Life is a “place” where people do duplicate Life in her whole latitude. Misery and class-fight included.

The early netizen gained trust and confidence by writing. Relationships were built – as Giancarlo Livraghi wrote – on soul, before than body. Second Life, on the contrary, replicates the ordinary social mechanisms. With the help of graphics components people hide – again – the “soul” and just focus on the “body”: fast car, “kool guyz”, fashionable suits… a whole “separate universe” where seek for relief from the pain of living.

If your life is miserable, why the hell would you like to buy a second (alike) one, instead of improving what you already got?

Peppermint, copyright and personal data

A side issue arising from the Peppermint affaire is the relationship between criminal and civil trials rule of evidence.

In a criminal investigation, access to ISP owned traffic data and log files is possible only with a public prosecutor search and seize warrant. One seized, these information are strictly confidential and cannot disclosed – even to the defense counsel – before the trial starts.

The very same data – as the Peppermint affaire shows – can indeed be obtained by a private entity alleging a civivl – not criminal, then – copyright infringement, just asking the civil court to force an ISP to disclose information.

This is a paradox of the Italian legal system, since criminal action is supposed to be the only reason to allow the breach of constitutional rights, while the a civil case only gives the court limited powers. This common-sense rule has been subverted when talking about copyright. Is it fair or acceptable?