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After Berlusconi Attack, Italy Considers Web Censorship 160

Posted by timothy
from the streisand-should-charge-a-consulting-fee dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Italian government has proposed introducing new restrictions on the Internet after a Facebook fan page for the man who allegedly attacked Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday drew almost 100,000 users in under 48 hours. However, the planned clampdown on Internet hate speech sparked a heated debate over censorship and freedom of expression, leading Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to execute a partial U-turn."
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After Berlusconi Attack, Italy Considers Web Censorship

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  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnHegarty (453016) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:30AM (#30485366) Homepage

    Must be very hard for Mr Berlusconi that there is media he doesn't control.

    For anyone not familiar with Italy he already owns all the major tv stations and newspapers.

    • by pmontra (738736)
      All the major newspapers? As far as I know he owns Il Giornale. Could you name other newspapers he owns?
      • Re:Control (Score:4, Informative)

        by emanem (1356033) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:00AM (#30485482) Homepage
        Il Giornale
        Libero (his ex-wife controls it but de-facto he is)
        Oggi
        Chi
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by emanem (1356033)
          Btw sorry I got confused... he owns so many... :-P
          Libero is owned by his brother Paolo
          Il Foglio is owned by his ex-wife
          and he owns (through his publishing company) ona of the biggest quotes of Il Corriere (the most famous italian newspaper)...
          • by pmontra (738736)

            Let's try to recap.

            Paolo Berlusconi is the owner of Il giornale through a couple of companies. Does he owns also Libero? I couldn't research who's in the board of Editoriale Libero (the controlling company) but for sure it's a newspaper with positions quite close to Berlusconi.

            Mrs Lario (wife of Berlusconi but about to be ex-wife) owns 38% of Il Foglio. I missed that, thanks.

            But how about this supposed 35% share of Il Corriere? Il Corriere is owned by RCS Mediagroup and its shareholders are listed on Conso [consob.it]

      • Re:Control (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:06AM (#30485518)

        He owns Il Giornale, via his brother Paolo. Il Foglio, it is owned by his recently divorcing wife. Mondadori, the biggest italian publisher, with a myriad of magazines, is in the hands of his daughter Marina. About the latter, he has just been sentenced guilty of taking over Mondadori by means of corruption back in 1990 and will have to pay 750 megaeuros. Mediaset is controlled by Piersilvio, his son, and owns 3 private national channels out of 7 plus a bunch of digital tv channels. Other than these, are the three national tv channels of RAI (state television) which is mostly controlled by the government.
        If this is not enough, well... unfortunely he has way much more power than this...

        by the way
        what do ./ers think of the aggression itself? I mean... is it possible to have two broken teeth, broken nose, and a white shirt with no red stain?

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          750 megaeuros

          Is that really how they count euros? If not, it is too precious by half, and I implore you to stop it right now.

        • by dkf (304284)

          Is it possible to have two broken teeth, broken nose, and a white shirt with no red stain?

          It depends on how fast someone got in with something to mop up the blood. I guess that was pretty quick (the video of the events was pretty confused...) We also don't know the extent to which his teeth were damaged; "broken" might be a mistransation of (the Italian word for) "chipped" or "cracked".

        • by malkien (1024487)

          I watched an analysis of the last few moments leading to the aggression.
          It's surprising how the whole security team spectacularly failed at protecting him.
          The aggressor had several seconds to actually take aim from a few feet away.
          This is a little beyond incompetent. I'm not sure how far beyond...

          The only certainty is that this event did wonders for his falling popularity.
          Here in Italy everybody is cheering for him at the moment.

    • Re:Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by migla (1099771) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:56AM (#30485464)

      On my to-watch-list, there's a recent-ish documentary about Berlusconis Italy, titled "Videocracy". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1500516/ [imdb.com]

      http://www.atmo.se/film-and-tv/videocracy/ [www.atmo.se] :

      In a videocracy the key to power is the image.

      In Italy one man only has kept the domination of the image over three entire decades. As a TV-magnate and then as Presidente, Silvio Berlusconi has created a perfect system of TV-entertainment and politics. [...] ...a remarkable story, born out of the scary reality of TV-republic Italy, a country where the step from TV-showgirl to Minister for Gender Equality is only natural.

      Coming soon to a festival (or internet) near you!

      • Re:Control (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:48AM (#30485782) Homepage Journal

        As far as controlling his image, his image didn't look so hot after he took a nice beating.

        About 90 percent of the world was heartened to see that at least one single human was able to express to his political leader what he felt in a direct and honest manner, and in a way that the politician could not ignore.

        The image of Berlusconi's well-fed and dissolute face all battered and bloody was a message to the world: There is yet hope.

        Salute!

        • by HNS-I (1119771)
          Nonsense, anyone with a brain was thinking that Berlusconi would be able to use this attack to his advantage immediately. This is not the way to change politics. I can't say feel sorry for him but I wouldn't wish him this attack. If you ask me the Italians get the premier they deserve, Berlusconi is promoting corruption from top to bottom and that is why the people keep him in power. At the end of the day it is the people who keep watching his tv-channels.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            This is not the way to change politics.

            There is no way to change politics. We will always be outgunned by rich corporations. The best we can hope for is the occasional satisfaction of seeing something painful befall a corrupt politician.

        • While it was great to see Berlusconi take one in the face, it's even funnier when the politicians fight back [youtube.com].

      • by giuda (1232902)
        Videocracy sucks. It's an absolute ripoff. It's a documentary about people that do everything to go on TV.
    • by Shin-LaC (1333529)
      There are three major players in the TV market in Italy: Rai, Mediaset and Sky.
      • Rai is owned by the state, and runs three major TV channels (Rai 1, Rai 2, Rai 3). The various parties exert some control on the different channels: it's not the case that the majority takes all. There is a parliamentary commission that watches over Rai, and it is controlled by the opposition.
      • Mediaset is owned by Berlusconi, and runs three major TV channels (Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4).
      • Sky is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and contr
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by acehole (174372) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:32AM (#30485370) Homepage

    Just goes to show, politicians everywhere dont like a medium that allows the little guy to have a voice.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      If you disagree with the current politician's policies, run on your own platform. Simple as that. If the population agrees with you, change occurs and problem solved. If you're actively censored, you can retaliate with force, and you should ultimately be supported by the courts if your efforts fail. Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and all that. Bitching about being put down by the man is worthless. i.e. Put Up or Shut Up :)

      • by Abreu (173023)

        If you disagree with the current politician's policies, and you are a millionaire, run on your own platform. Simple as that. If the population agrees with you, change occurs and problem solved.

        I tend to dislike FIFY posts, but this seemed inevitable...

        If you're actively censored, you can retaliate with force, and you should (but won't) ultimately be supported by the courts if your efforts fail. Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and all that. Bitching about being put down by the man is worthless. i.e. Put Up or Shut Up :)

        Open insurrection would only cause accusations of terrorism from the ruling cadre and you will end up killed by the forces of the goverment.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      I'm not surprised Italy is having a problem with the internet after they sentenced Amanda Knox to 26 years [cnn.com] on 100% circumstantial evidence that would be laughable even for a TV drama [timesonline.co.uk]. What other BS do you want to do Italy? My wife wanted to go someday but not now, not ever.
  • They never learn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    OR, the Italian government could use this as an opportunity to gauge the public disapproval for their senior politicians.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:34AM (#30485382)

    The government would treat it just like any other case, even with such a facebook group.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the government uses high-profile cases to grab at power and suppress the people while having their whole-hearted support of such measures. The patriot act comes to mind. (Which, btw, did nothing to stop Nidal Hasan from killing people.)

    These type of things shows you the true stripes of those in power, and who should be voted out ASAP.

    • by furball (2853) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:53AM (#30485448) Journal

      The Patriot Act is intended to focus on groups of people organizing to carry out a planned action. It doesn't do anything for single crazy acting on their own.

      What allowed Nidal Hasan to kill people was rampant political correctness.

      Whether what Nidal Hasan did constitutes terrorism is still open for debate. The typical things we identify with terrorism such as a political cause, message, or grievance is still unidentified. When a combatant buries an IED, we can assume that his issue is that the US leaves Iraq/Afghanistan. What's Nidal Hasan's gripe? His deployment? The US's role in the Middle East? Does anyone know? Does he even have one? When is an act terrorism and when is it just simple murder?

      Is the shooting at Virginia Tech terrorism? Or is it only terrorism if the perpetrator is Muslim?

      • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:00AM (#30485488)

        The Patriot Act is intended to focus on groups of people organizing to carry out a planned action. It doesn't do anything for single crazy acting on their own.

        And yet the FBI had plenty of tips about the hijackers before the actual attack.

        What allowed Nidal Hasan to kill people was rampant political correctness.

        Perhaps it was simply the same bloated bureacracy that fail before 9/11, which got warning signs but the signals got lost in the chain of command because they're too busy spying on the emails of millions of others.

        When is an act terrorism and when is it just simple murder?

        Is the shooting at Virginia Tech terrorism? Or is it only terrorism if the perpetrator is Muslim?

        Terrorism is a tactic designed to invoke a specific psychological reaction.

        The way past US leadership uses it is a catch-all phrase to grab power:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW8Bj1upbJQ [youtube.com]

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW8Bj1upbJQ [youtube.com]

        • by R2.0 (532027)

          "Perhaps it was simply the same bloated bureacracy that fail before 9/11, which got warning signs but the signals got lost in the chain of command because they're too busy spying on the emails of millions of others."

          The GP was referring to the fact that Hasan's medical supervisors treated him differently because he was a Muslim and gave him third, fourth, and fifth chances that they would not have given other students.

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          The Patriot Act is intended to focus on groups of people organizing to carry out a planned action. It doesn't do anything for single crazy acting on their own.

          And yet the FBI had plenty of tips about the hijackers before the actual attack.

          I don't disagree with your general premise, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how your statement logically contradicts his.

          I'm presuming that the 'hijackers' you are referring to are the 9/11 hijackers. That was a case of a group of organized people, not a single cr

      • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:03AM (#30485504) Journal

        Or is it only terrorism if the perpetrator is Muslim?

        It is terrorism precisely when the word "terrorism" brings out the right sentiment in those listening to you.

        The British were terrorising Catholics in Northern Ireland. The IRA were terrorising the English in London. The ANC was terrorising the white government in apartheid South Africa. The apartheid government was terrorising the black majority. Jews terrorised Arab villages and British hotels. Arabs terrorise Jewish women and children in marketplaces.

      • "The Patriot Act is intended to focus on groups of people organizing to carry out a planned action. It doesn't do anything for single crazy acting on their own."

        Except that intelligence agencies and the FBI were already aware that Osama Bin Laden was planning something big, that members of his group had been traveling under false identities, and that at least two of them were in the United States prior to the attack. The President had been sent a memo that there was a very high likelihood that Osama Bin
      • I'm tending towards him being a disgruntled nutjob, no different, really, than Timothy McVey or postal nutso Patrick Sherrill. The fact that he's Muslim seems only to go to motive. The guy was clearly a ticking time bomb, whose only advantage, as happens so many times in these cases, was that for peculiar reasons, no one seemed willing to bounce him out at the first warning signs.

        But it serves a political end to move him out of the disgruntled nutjob category and into the terrorist category.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Whether what Nidal Hasan did constitutes terrorism is still open for debate.

        And entirely irrelevant. 12 people are dead whether it was terrorism or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FinchWorld (845331)
      The patriot act comes to mind. (Which, btw, did nothing to stop Nidal Hasan from killing people.)

      Dear Citizen,

      The Patriot Act was infact a great help it stopping Nidal Hasan from killing more people than he did! Infact, if we allow full wiretapping, remove all that paperwork that gets in the way of stopping police from stopping and searching you, as well as any probable cause requirements involved, this would never have happenned! It just turns out the soft liberal types, who are first to defend cartoon

  • by netsharc (195805) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:36AM (#30485392)

    If they do go ahead with it, the serious backlash will surely bring down the Berlusconi regime. Or is this just wishful thinking? His media power has really brainwashed the majority of citizens there..

    • by daveime (1253762)

      It might possibly bring down the Berlusconi regime, but then it'll be Prodi's turn again and he'll fuck it up like always. Expect Silvio in power again after a nice little 6 month vacation.

      The problem in Italy is not that people are "brainwashed" by Silvio, it's just that he sucks slightly less than the only other choice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      Wishful thinking. I have yet to see a backlash against proposed or actual censorship, even in countries that have a strong freedom of speech culture.

      This little blip will not bring down Musso^H^H^HBerlusconi.

    • by tsa (15680)

      If the EU had any balls they would have kicked Italy out long ago because of Berlusconi's behaviour.

  • Wrong response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:36AM (#30485394)
    The last thing you do is try and stop people from hearing about it. You make light of it, show it as not a big deal, and move on.

    "Yeah, some guy hit me with a souvenir... Oh well, shit happens! The security guards are stepping it up a notch or two, but it's not like I was shot or anything. Thanks god, you know? Wouldn't want to leave my wife having to look for an inferior lover! Vote for me, you guys... I'm easy going."

    And the world moves on.
  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:38AM (#30485396) Homepage

    Usually, we just call that "turning left" (or right, depending on your country)

    • by deepsky (11076)

      In case of a right-wing government like this one, a partial U-turn is probably a left turn.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      A J-turn or L-turn, depending on direction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MBGMorden (803437)

        I think in most fonts a J turn ends up being equivalent to a U turn. Those damned serif fonts will screw up your turns every time though.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. Create some incident. Any incident will do.
    2. Blame it on people on the web. You can call them "terrorists", if necessary.
    3. Censor the web. The more the better. Pass some bill overnight if necessary.
    4. If someone in media raises questions about censorship, publish some irrelevant "scandal" to deflect public attention.
    5. ???
    6. Profit!

    If that doesn't work completely, continue boiling the frog, rinse and repeat.

    Surely profit, but not for us, folks. You are screwed, wherever on this Earth you are.

    • by kvezach (1199717)
      It's more general than that:

      1. Create some incident, or wait for one to happen.
      2. Blame it on [insert group here]. It's better if you can find evidence to this effect, but not critical.
      3. Propose countermeasures against said group in particular, and more strict authority in general, to solve #2.
      4. If someone objects, discredit them with accusations of being one of them, and/or distract the public. 5. Profit!^W Power!
  • I think it's in "Forever Peace" where the goverment nukes a city (Denver?) and acusses the then new 'nanotechnology' of the incident to take control over every production line and create a politicians-controlled monopoly.

    Maybe in 50 years we discover that the attacker is a member of the AISI (italian intelligence agency); or maybe not, because the web would be controlled by government...

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:00AM (#30485490)
    Whenever I see a knee-jerk reaction by a government, the first thought that pops into my head is "Oh, my. Are they nuclear?"
  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:01AM (#30485492)

    Governments *hate* the idea of people having too much freedom.

    Why?
    It means you'll start asking too many questions and governments don't like that!

    It also means you become difficult to control.

    How?
    By keeping you fearful - global warming, recession, terrorism, nuclear arms and now the freedom of the Internet (terrorists and paedophiles use it)
    These subjects in themselves are genuine concerns but governments have a knack of focusing on them and using them to conrol the general population. Usually by using extreme measures via law and policy legislation.

    Web censorship is no different. Governments need us to be passive and compliant. Fortunately free speech is *impossible* to control it's part of who you are. You can censor or prohibit the *mechanisms* that express free speech but never "control" it.

    Suppose Italy do censor the Internet and other countries follow. Do you really think that will be the end of it?

    I don't think so.

    If they start blocking web sites (probably at ISP level) then people will turn to encryption and deliver content that way. If encrypting the web becomes illegal then some other mechanism will manifest itself (e.g. bypassing the ISP entirely).

    I hate to say this, but some form of government control is coming to the Internet whether you like it or not.

    So, be prepared.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Freedom is not for you is you are not someone. That's it.
  • Italians can be identified by these two songs:
    Articolo 31 - Domani smetto
    Articolo 31 - Italiano medio
    You'll be perfectly able to understand what's going on if you listen to these songs...to bad I can't find a pre-made English translation..
    Cheers,

    Ps. I'm Italian
  • Fans (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TimeElf1 (781120) <<kennettb> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:13AM (#30485576) Homepage Journal
    The Italian government has proposed introducing new restrictions on the Internet after a Facebook fan page for the man who allegedly attacked Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday drew almost 100,000 users in under 48 hours.

    Well that is a rather knee jerk reaction, last I checked Facebook was not for just people from Italy. Besides people will become fans of anything on Facebook, from beer, to Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Good on you, Italy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) *

    Good on you, Italy. At least you are being honest about why you would want to censor the net. None of the usual "terrorist pedophile" nonsense. Just a nice, simple message to the populous: "we don't want to hear from you, please go away".

    However, since I am against censorship, I might have to reconsider the answer to my Simpson quote [slashdot.org] regarding asteroid targets from earlier today.

  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:22AM (#30485620) Homepage Journal
    In Italy you are not allowed to reach some international websites, mainly related to betting.
    You get directed to a generic web page (hosted at the government company SOGEI Spa [wikipedia.org]) that says that you are not allowed to visit those websites.
    If you are in Italy you can try http://www.ladbrokes.com/ [ladbrokes.com] or http://www.skybet.com/ [skybet.com].
    Can you spell "freedom" in Italian? We cannot.
    • by Nathrael (1251426)
      A corrupt mafia-run government wants to outlaw gambling? Well, duh, BIG SURPRISE.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by I'm_Original (1152583)
      I am in Italy right now, and I didn't know there was any censorship. I tried those two sites, and you're right, they are in fact censored, with a notice referencing the law that brought the censorship into place. Thank you.
  • I mean, look at the facts. If this had been an incident in France, we would have two dozen posts with surrender jokes already. But here we have an Italian story and not one submarine screen door, bottom of the ocean, five reverse gears, pulling the pins and throwing them back reference. Someone has to be preventing this.

  • by Nomaxxx (1136289) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:39AM (#30485726) Homepage
    "leading Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to execute a partial U-turn." What's a partial U-turn? ...a L-turn?
  • It just shows you why a constitution is a good idea. The best time to make a cool decision about freedom of speech and censorship is probably not while you are nursing wounds after being attacked, but a change made now would be difficult to get reveresed in the furure. The same could happen in the UK, where I live - one event could lead to hasty loss of liberty. Oh, wait it already has [guardian.co.uk].
  • The train of thought (Score:3, Informative)

    by Balau (1286776) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:59AM (#30485848) Homepage
    It goes on like this:
    -Berlusconi was attacked by Mr.Tartaglia because he hated him.
    -The attack was caused by the hateful mood (http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/politica/2009/12/15/visualizza_new.html_1646244271.html/ [www.ansa.it])
    -Facebook is full of political hatred (http://www.ilgiornale.it/interni/su_facebook_tartaglia_eroe_chi_odia/tartaglia-facebook-berlusconi/13-12-2009/articolo-id=406674-page=0-comments=1/ [ilgiornale.it])
    -Facebook is on the Internet
    -The solution is to control Facebook, and also the whole Internet to avoid mistakes (http://www.repubblica.it/2009/12/sezioni/politica/giustizia-22/rodota/rodota.html/ [repubblica.it])
  • After seeing the words "Minister Robert Maroni," all I can picture in my mind is a man with dark eyebrows seeing the Facebook page and then ranting about "iceholes" and "fargin' bastiges."

  • Pretty Arrogant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Milican (58140) on Friday December 18, 2009 @09:14AM (#30486688) Journal

    It's too bad, but people get attacked all the time. However, when a leader gets attacked then we need to shut down the Internet. Pretty arrogant and self-centered. I'm glad the Internet is pretty free, but it's only a matter of time until politicians invent an excuse to control it. I'm sure it will be for the children, or to stop some possible terrorist scenario. Then it'll creep out from there.

    JOhn

  • Wrong title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Friday December 18, 2009 @09:16AM (#30486714)

    It should have read:

    AFTER BERLUCONI ATTACK, ITALIAN GOVERNMENT SHOWS HIS PLANS FOR CENSORSHIP.

    Anyone with info about how Berlusconi deals with the basis of democracy (independent news, respect to the Constitution, independent judges) would have expected these plans to be in the works. The attack gives them an opportunity to show them.

  • America gets critized for a lot of things, many justifiably. But its so-called Bill of Rights is mroe firmly followed than in most other countries, inlcuding "liberal Europe". Cults like Scientology and Mormonism are banend in parts of Europe. "Pre-trial publicity" and "reasonable doubt" are not as entrenched in other places liek the during the recent Italian trial of the the Seattle woman.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget the "Italian Crackdown" in 1992.

    To fight against crime, police busted all italian fidonet BBS.
    122 arrest and 159 BBS confiscated.

    Ref: http://www.altx.com/interzones2/italy/crackdown.html

    Regard,
    Dan

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