Wikipedia hides Italian edition in protest of new Wiretap Law

By Lee Kaelin on October 5, 2011, 12:35 PM

Wikipedia has hidden the Italian edition of the online encyclopaedia to protest against a proposed new law in the country that will require websites to publish corrections within 48 hours of content being found objectionable, or face fines of $16,000 (€12,000).

The new law, named DDL Intercettazioni (Wiretapping Act), is being debated in the Italian parliament this week and would put the burden on websites to amend any content that an applicant deems to be detrimental to his/her image.

"As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced to actually delete it," said Wikipedia in a statement published on its Italian edition website yesterday.

The proposed new law has been met with criticism from a number of activists in Italy and abroad, all claiming it will affect the freedom of expression on the web, and could very easily be used to squash adverse media coverage of the controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Requests for published content to be corrected are not even subject to review, further enraging those opposing it. "Unfortunately, the law does not require an evaluation of the claim by an impartial third judge," Wikipedia said.  "The opinion of the person allegedly injured is all that is required, in order to impose such correction to any website."

That means anyone who finds comments offensive whether they are published in a blog, website, or even Wikipedia can directly request a "corrected version" be posted contradicting or disproving the original comments,  "regardless of the truthfulness of the information deemed as offensive, and its sources", Wikipedia said.

The online encyclopaedia considers the obligation to publish a correction as is, without even the right to discuss and verify the claim, an unacceptable restriction of the freedom and independence of Wikipedia, and everything it stands for.

Likewise, Italian bloggers are outraged that their right to free speech, as listed in Article 21 of the Italian constitution, is being taken away in an attempt to censor unfavourable content from being published.




User Comments: 20

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treeski treeski said:

You tell 'em, Wiki.

MilwaukeeMike said:

This one doesn't pass the sniff test right away... they always say 'Correction'. A correction implies a mistake, and opinions aren't mistakes. If I said I saw Obama drunk at a bar, that's an incorrect fact, not my opinion. Is that what this law is trying to change? Or are they really saying you wouldn't be allowed to say 'Berlusconi's a dope.' Unfortunately this article is only focused on Wikipedia's reaction, so more research is required. Seems like a strong protest to a law that isn't a law.

Either way... I'm not sure Italy can afford more public outrage at the moment. They've got bigger problems, although maybe they think they can make them go away Kim Jong Il style.

Or maybe this is fall out from those Bunga-Bunga parties.. hmmmm????

Guest said:

This stupid government has managed to kick his own penis!

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Everyone must do their part in the fight against tyranny. The NWO control system is slow but steadily taking over.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

The end of internet freedom as we know it.

SammyJames said:

And what *I* was going to print regarding this article is as follows:

Italy definitely can NOT afford to continue raising the ire of other nations. They have had many PR deficiencies over the years -- such as the fact that their capital is the seat of one of the most powerful, and controversial, religious icons on the planet. That alone makes it a country that I regard suspiciously.

Too, more recently, we have seen as their "justice" system was put on-trial for about four years running. Just in case anyone here isn't aware of it, Amanda Knox was freed yesterday. But I'm convinced that there will be a pretty severe fallout from this -- most notably, it might affect relations between our countries for decades. (See: Iran and the U.S., ca. 1979... et cetera...)

And if they pass this law -- then they will have taken a flying leap backwards -- toward the days when Caesar himself would impale any objectors on a wooden cross. So -- there ya go! One authority in Rome who thinks that this is the worst idea ever -- and another who thinks that it ain't so bad at all.

You tell ME who is whom.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This is what Berlusconi does. The guy is a walking caricature of a sleazeball. But the Italians somehow keep him in office, so this is on them. Maybe one day they'll realize their head of state is a joke, but until they do, I guess no Wikipedia for them.

SammyJames said:

gwailo247 said:

Maybe one day they'll realize their head of state is a joke, but until they do, I guess no Wikipedia for them.

I hear what you're saying. The only problem with it is that countries that get cut off from the rest of the world typically decline quickly. (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, which isn't really even a country anymore, are all examples.) I'm not suggesting that Italy will get that bad, but it does kinda stink for the people in Italy who agree with us -- that liberal free speech is a good thing.

On the other hand, I agree that Wikipedia must cover their own hides. If they get taken to court in Italy and face potential fines, they will at least be distracted from doing the good work that they do.

I like Wikipedia. It has its flaws, but basically, I respect a lot of the content that they provide. When a Wikipedia article is properly-sourced, it is an excellent tool for knowledge. I'm just going to keep my eye on this story to see what happens.

Guest said:

What range of IP addresses does italy use? Guess Google will help me with blocking that "country".

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

sammyjames said:

gwailo247 said:

Maybe one day they'll realize their head of state is a joke, but until they do, I guess no Wikipedia for them.

I hear what you're saying. The only problem with it is that countries that get cut off from the rest of the world typically decline quickly. (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, which isn't really even a country anymore, are all examples.) I'm not suggesting that Italy will get that bad, but it does kinda stink for the people in Italy who agree with us -- that liberal free speech is a good thing.

Italy isn't like one of those countries. It's not voter fraud or rigged elections. He's not a dictator. They voted him in. If losing Wikipedia doesn't make them wake up, then perhaps something worse will. Ultimately it is up to the voters to decide what sort of future their country will have. If they let this stand, it will only get worse.

Guest said:

I don't get it - Italy can't control the Internet, possibly just sites hosted in Italy. Just host any potentially offending websites elsewhere?

Guest said:

I pretty much agree with you. To an extent, the Wikipedia Foundation (I am an active editor of Wikipedia, and I only found out about this issue today because of a quirk in my Wikipedia set-up) has over-reacted but also under-reacted While for past editing, there is the danger that Italy could demand the IPs of any entry content in ANY Wikipedia article, not just those in Italian. In particular, there might be "attacks" on articles on Italian subjects in other Wikipedias (e.g., the English, German, Dutch, Spanish articles on Berlusconi, Fascism, Napoleon, popes, Italian soccer teams). For future Wikipedia entries, especially in Italian or about Italian subjects, Wikipedia should consider some sort of voluntary re-direct so that there is no evidence of what legal jurisdiction content has come from. FYI: Wikipedia in Italian is served in Florida.

China (re Google) and Britain (re Twitter i.a.) have also tried to restrict the Internet with differing success.

Guest said:

I am from Italy. What is happening here is weird and unbelievably stupid. We have a government who talks more than it does (I mean, it talks a lot and does almost nothing), we have oppositions who just shout every single day that Berlusconi should leave the leadership, for any single reason whatever it is, and the information media which are owned or directed by the same people, or people close to, the politicians above.

I don't think that a similar law will really come true, even if this is the third time an italian government tries to do something really similar (two attempts for this government, one for the left-handed government). Not for now, I mean.

Italy could be one of the best places to live in the world. Sad it's full of italians...

SammyJames said:

gwailo247 said:

Italy isn't like one of those countries. It's not voter fraud or rigged elections. He's not a dictator. They voted him in. If losing Wikipedia doesn't make them wake up, then perhaps something worse will. Ultimately it is up to the voters to decide what sort of future their country will have. If they let this stand, it will only get worse.

Oh, I am well-aware of this. And that is exactly why I stated that I was pretty sure that they wouldn't backslide THAT badly. I was simply pointing out how bad things CAN get for countries whose populations are turned away by the rest of the world.

Right now, Italy is kinda on the "Santa's coal list" of countries.

SammyJames said:

Guest said:

Italy could be one of the best places to live in the world. Sad it's full of italians...

That is funny. You do know that Berlusconi is perhaps one of the only dicta-- I mean, uh, world leaders -- to have ever had a cathedral thrown at his face...

Guest said:

I don't get it - Italy can't control the Internet, possibly just sites hosted in Italy. Just host any potentially offending websites elsewhere?

It's a law made by decrepit elders who don't know how print a pdf

the Berlusconi's lieges simply can't came up with a way to carve up internet (like they did with the public television) and a stupid law is the result.

Guest said:

Well, you know Italy is a strange country driven by strange guys.

Some days ago one of our "beloved" politicians said that the average member of our parliament works from monday afternoon to thursday evening, for an average of 330 hours every month. That would mean that they work 22 hours a day! He was asking for a raise because they only get 12000 net ?, a little less than 17000 net $... I'm not joking, you can read it here at pages 74 and 75!

http://nuovo.camera.it/_dati/leg16/lavori/stenografici/sed52
/SINTERO.pdf

This is a crazy country, and what makes me even more sad is that there still is someone who thinks that those people can do something good for us... this is one of the main reasons I said that joke...

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

Well, you know Italy is a strange country driven by strange guys.

...

This is a crazy country, and what makes me even more sad is that there still is someone who thinks that those people can do something good for us... this is one of the main reasons I said that joke...

Okay, so when some Italian pol thinks you just insulted his whole class of people and demands a correction, will TechSpot have to delete your comment or pay through the nose to keep the politician happy? If so, how do I become an Italian politician?

Guest said:

I'm not sure if I got your point (sorry I'm not so fluent with english), I'm sorry if you think that it was an insult, but I didn't mean to insult anyone. Nobody will ever ask this forum to delete anything, if you want to see with your eyes what the political climate is in Italy, just google translate almost any italian newspaper (il fatto quotidiano, il giornale, repubblica) or political blog... you will probably see direct insults to the Prime Minister, to the other ministers and to the oppositors too. Maybe you will see why we all as italians, and most of all the information medias, really need to tone down a little bit... just not with an absurd wiretap law.

Guest said:

Seems like there's an opportunity here for a social protest to take advantage of that new law. For example, anyone (everyone?) could object to any web site that sells anything, demanding retraction or 'correction' of every advertising claim. How long would the law stand under those circumstances?

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