Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gagging Italian bloggers = finito for Wikipedia Italiano?


Quite recently, transcripts of phone calls of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi were leaked. Leakages include his expression of contempt for his country and a desire to leave it; "a crude insult" at German leader Angela Merkel; and boasting of "'doing eight girls" in a night with a joke that with all his sexual activity, he was only prime minister 'in [his] spare time.'"


Deluged in so much leakages, Berlusconi and his government are now trying to restrict online publication of police wiretapping transcripts.

The remedy (to plug holes for further leakages) came in the form of bill: the "DDL intercettazioni" (Wiretapping Act). Section 29 of said Bill imposes "a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image." That or be fined with as much as a €12,000. Catch is, nothing in the proposal provides for a verification process of the accuracy of the corrections, much less a process of judicial review.

For the government and figures like Berlusconi, it is a remedy.

For the mass of bloggers, such is a legally-clothed anti-speech freedom move…even fascism, when nude. And it isn’t the first time the government threatened a strip off.*


With right to freedom of speech (Art.21 of Italy’s Constitution) as their battle cry, anti-gagging protests were launched all over Italy last week, in response to the government’s attempt to stifle blogging.

Wikipedia’s protest took the form of a statement, which replaced every Italian-language page, that a new law could possibly force the shutdown of the Italian edition of Wikipedia. Subsequently, Wiki posts in Italian articles were restored, albeit with banners protesting the threat of the new bill.

According to Wikipedia’s editor: “ [they] have always been available to review—and modify, if needed—any content deemed to be detrimental to anyone, without harm to the project's neutrality and independence." Further, they argued that the existing defamation law gives ample protection to Italian personalities unfairly maligned by online posts.


These days, such series of events on the other side of the globe (but still well within our virtual “world”) serve more of a caveat than a piece of news. Nothing new, but always a threat. Bloggers may speak all they want now, but the last say belongs to those who legislate. Once blogging is gagged, we may speak no more. Or maybe, just speak less. Less, but louder…stronger. In any case, I highly doubt that threats of suppression, Italian or not, could block a raging river from pouring out. Either water will find its way and seep through holes… or it will wear down the blockade slowly...or it will tear it down completely, violently. So when government threatens: bloggers beware. Bloggers retort: dare.

Crisela Bernardino, entry# 16

* sources:;

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