Man at His Best

Italy’s Insane Internet Censorship Law

Site owners will be responsible for all the feels.

BY Jason S Ganesan | Sep 20, 2016 | Culture


If you think that you see “Laman sesawang ini tidak dapat diakses di Malaysia” when you want to watch porn is bad, think again. A newly proposed internet law in Italy is taking censorship to a whole new level of oppressiveness.

Ostensibly to curb cyber-bullying and revenge porn, the Italian Chamber of Deputies proposed legislation that puts the responsibility of censorship on website and social media network owners, or get fined.

Certainly, these owners are sometimes called out for having objectionable content, but the underlying premise of the owner-reader relationship is laissez faire, not penalties imposed by the state.

That’s not all. If a reader feels that the content of a website is mocking—with feels being the key word, since it is entirely dependent on her/his “personal and social condition” and not objective criteria—then the owner is bound by law to remove that content. Or face a EUR 100,000 fine.

As Cory Doctorow writes on Boing Boing, “Truthfulness is not a defence in suits under this law… the standard is personal insult, not falsehood.”

The law will effectively grant power to not only the state, but also to well-connected individuals (who can afford fancy lawyers) to bring frivolous lawsuits against websites that criticise them in any way—effectively killing off meaningful political discourse. Think Bollea vs Gawker, but on elephantine doses of LSD.

Obviously, the anti-bullying premise is bait-and-switch, capitalising upon a popular fear to protect the powerful. What will they think of next? Shutting down news websites on the basis of protecting national securit… oh.