Saturday, November 29, 2008

Internet freedom: Heads up bloggers

A consistent concern in this blog is the restriction of our freedom to access information and to retain privacy as innocent citizens. Bit by bit, in front of our very eyes, as we fret about our finances, we are losing our freedoms. And I do not mean 'we' in the national sense, but rather in the global sense. This world we inhabit here, now, is very fragile and dependent upon technology and corporations none of us control.

Country by country falls to new measures to monitor and restrict its citizens movements and privacy, as 'we' are preoccupied with the media circus they wish to hypnotize us with. And it is working.

How many of you have thought how much information power you will have if your server begins restricting access to information and other bloggers? When sites disappear off the web, there is little to be done by the rest of us. Heads up bloggers. You will sorely miss what you do not pay attention to now.

How an Italian Judge
Made the Internet Illegal

November 28th, 2008
Italian bloggers are up in arms at a court ruling early this year that suggests almost all Italian blogs are illegal. This month, a senior Italian politician went one step further, warning that most web activity is likely to be against the law.

The story begins back in May, when a judge in Modica (in Sicily) found local historian and author Carlo Ruta guilty of the crime of “stampa clandestina” – or publishing a “clandestine” newspaper – in respect of his blog. The judge ruled that since the blog had a headline, that made it an online newspaper, and brought it within the law’s remit.

The penalties for this crime are not onerous: A fine of 250 Euros or a prison sentence of up to two years. Carlo Ruta was fined and ordered to take down his site, which has now been replaced by a blank page, headed “Site under construction”, and a link directing surfers to his new site. Hardly serious stuff – except that he now has a criminal record, and his original site has disappeared.

The offence has its origins in 1948, when in apparent contradiction of Article 21 of the Italian Constitution guaranteeing the right to free expression, a law was passed requiring publishers to register officially before setting up a new publication. The intention, in the immediate aftermath of Fascism, may have been to regulate partisan and extremist publications. The effect was to introduce into Italian society a highly centrist and bureaucratic approach to freedom of the Press.

A further twist to this tale took place in 2001, with the realisation that existing laws were inadequate to deal with the internet. Instead of liberalising, the Italian Government sought to bring the internet into the same framework as traditional print media. Law 62, passed in March 2001, introduces the concept of “stampa clandestina” to the internet.

The suspicion expressed by a number of commentators is that this extension of the law suited government and publishers alike. The state was able to maintain its benevolent stranglehold on the media, whilst publishers could use the system of authorisation and regulation as a means to extend state subsidies to their ventures on the internet.

What few noticed at the time was that this law had the capacity to place blogs on a par with full-blown journalism. It would only take a judge to decide that something as simple as a headline was what defined a “newspaper”.

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All blogs are really just small snapshots of a person's mind, heart and soul as they evolve together through life....

Small bits of the thread of life we weave together into the fabric of ourselves, in the hope we will make sense of our existence, individual and collective.

On this page, is the cloak I have fashioned from my fabric to warm myself in a universe which often makes little sense.

Inside my cloak, it is warm enough to face the blistering cold winds of the insane world in which I find myself.

If you find some a bit of 'the good stuff' here, it has been my pleasure.