REEDOM ON THE
The ruling could open the door to similar judgments, in which victims of defamation over social
networks could seek high amounts of compensation.
The monitoring of personal communications is permissible only if a judicial warrant has been
issued, and widespread technical surveillance is not a concern in Italy. Nevertheless, the country’s
authorities are known for engaging in extensive wiretapping.
According to 2006 figures from the
Max Planck Institute, a German think-tank, Italy led the world in terms of wiretaps, with 76
intercepts per 100,000 people.
Data from 2010 shows that the authorities bug the communication
lines of roughly one in every 470 adults.
Wiretapping is generally restricted to cases involving
ongoing legal proceedings and terrorism investigations. Since 2001, “pre-emptive wiretapping” may
occur even if no formal prosecutorial investigation has been initiated. More lenient procedures are
also in place for Mafia-related investigations.
The past year witnessed the failure of a draft wiretap bill (“DDL intercettazioni”) that aimed to
address concerns over the right to privacy, particularly as information obtained from wiretaps is
regularly leaked to the media. The bill, promoted by Berlusconi’s PdL over the past few years, has
been criticized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on
Freedom of the Media and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.
Indeed, several provisions appeared to threaten media freedom and the right of the public to access
independent information. These included high fines and jail sentences for filming an individual
without permission and obligations for websites and blogs to issue corrections within 48 hours of
receiving notice of an alleged error.
The bill was subsequently put on hold in late 2010 but
revived in October 2011 after incriminating and embarrassing wiretaps of Berlusconi’s
conversations related to a sex scandal were published in newspaper and online.
Although not a
priority for the Monti government, the issue of wiretapping remains on the agenda of current
Prime Minister Enrico Letta due to continued pressure from Berlusconi’s PdL.
See for example Cristina Bassi, “Intercettazioni, quante sono e quanto costano” [Interceptions, How Many and How Much
They Cost], Sky TG24, June 13, 2010,
Duncan Kennedy, “Italian bill to limit wiretaps draws fire,” BBC, June 11, 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10279312 and
“Intercettazioni: dati ufficiali” [Interceptions: official data], Il Chiodo (blog), June 19, 2010,
Doug Longhini, “We’ll be listening: Amanda Knox case reveals extent of Italian wiretapping,” CBS News, November 23, 2011,
Privacy International, “Italy: Privacy Profile,” in European Privacy and Human Rights 2010 (London: Privacy International,
“OSCE media freedom representative urges Italy to amend bill on electronic surveillance,” OSCE Representative on Freedom
of the Media, June 15, 2010, http://www.osce.org/fom/69428.
Nadine de Ninno, “Italian Wikipedia Shuts Down Prompted by New Wiretap Act,” International Business Times, October 4,
Tom Kington, “Berlusconi wiretaps reveal suspected pimp had visa to join him in China,” The Guardian, September 18, 2011,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/18/berlusconi‐pimp‐china‐visa‐wiretaps; Jeffery Kofman, “Silvio Berlusconi
Wiretaps: ‘Only Prime Minister in His Spare Time,’” ABC News, September 18, 2011,
http://abcnews.go.com/International/silvio‐berlusconi‐wiretaps‐prime‐minister‐spare‐time/story?id=14546921; John Hooper,
“Silvio Berlusconi faces fresh claims over parties, prostitutes and pay‐outs,” The Guardian, September 15, 2011,
“Intercettazioni, ritorna il ddl Alfano: è polemica” [Interceptions, the Alfano draft law returns], Tgcom24, May 15, 2013,
REEDOM ON THE
In March 2008, Parliament approved a law (No. 48 of 2008) that ratified the Council of Europe’s
Convention on Cybercrime, which established the period in which internet-related communication
data should be retained.
This matter was further refined with the inclusion in the Italian legislative
system of the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive two months later.
Under the current legal
framework, ISPs must keep users’ traffic records—though not the content of communications—
for 12 months. This includes broadband internet data, internet telephony, internet use via mobile
phone, and e-mail activity.
The records can only be disclosed in response to a request from a
public prosecutor (a judge) or a defendant’s lawyer, and, like their counterparts elsewhere in
Europe, Italy’s law enforcement agencies may ask ISPs to make such information readily available in
the course of criminal investigations. Given the technical burden of this directive, most ISPs now
use a third-party service that offers the necessary security guarantees for encryption and data
As Italy moves towards greater e-governance, some concerns have been raised over the protection
of user data in the hands of public agencies. “Certified Electronic Mail” (PEC), an initiative of the
national postal service Poste Italiane, was named the public agency most damaging to individual
privacy at the annual “Big Brother Awards” 2011. The shaming “prize” was given to PEC for its
gross mishandling of private information kept by the government’s “Registro delle Opposizioni,” a
register of people who wish to keep their contact information hidden from advertisement
Nevertheless, in November 2011, it became mandatory for all businesses to use the
PEC service in their communications with the public administration to cut costs and reduce
Reports of extrajudicial intimidation or physical violence in response to online activity are rare,
although individuals who expose the activities of organized crime may be at risk of reprisals in
certain areas of the country. According to intelligence reports, there are increasing fears that the
country’s economic crisis may push extremist groups to adopt cybercrimes as a form of protest or
A special branch within the Postal and Communications Police, the National Center
for Infrastructure Protection (CNAIPIC), is tasked with the protection of the country’s critical
More common is the defacement or launching of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks
against banks, business websites, and government institutions. In October 2012, Italian members of
For a useful timetable of the required retention periods, see Gloria Marcoccio, “Convention on cybercrime: novità per la
conservazione dei dati” [Convention on Cybercrime: News on Data Retention], InterLex, April 10, 2008,
http://www.interlex.it/675/marcoccio7.htm. See also Andrea Monti, “Data Retention in Italy. The State of the Art,” Digital
Thought (blog), May 30, 2008, http://blog.andreamonti.eu/?p=74.
Legislative Decree No. 109, May 30, 2008.
Privacy International, “Italy: Privacy Profile.”
Cristina Sciannamblo “Big Brother Awards Italia: tutti i vincitori,” Punto Informatico, June 6, 2011, http://punto‐
“Ulteriore Deroga fino a fine giugno 2012 per la casella PEC aziendale,” IlSoftware.it, accessed July 24, 2012, http://www.i‐
Il Corriere della sera, “Servizi: crisi alimenta tensione sociale”, February 28, 2013,
Critical infrastructure includes telecommunications networks, energy and water distribution systems, banking networks, and
transportation and emergency services.
REEDOM ON THE
the hacktivist group Anonymous leaked 1.35 GB of data it had received in an attack on the Italian
State Police. The information included details of existing wiretaps, interception techniques, and
personal information on police officers.
In February 2013, the websites of the police of the
Campania region, the Courthouse of Milan, and the Department of Penitentiary Administration
were hacked. The homepages of those sites were replaced with an image of the Anonymous
emblem and a declaration of a “digital revolution” of young Italians against “government
Nevertheless, Italy does not rank highly on the list of countries identified as points
of origin for cybercrimes.
Mohit Kumar, “Anonymous Hakcers leaks 1.35GB Italian State Police Data,” The Hacker News, October 25, 2012,
“Gli hacker colpiscono ancora: attaccato sito della polizia campana” Corriere della Sera, February 17, 2013,
“Italy leader in mobile attacks,” Global Cyber Security Center (blog), accessed August 21, 2012,
http://www.gcsec.org/blog/italy‐leader‐mobile‐attacks. It should be noted, nonetheless, that the Global Cyber Security Center
has been established by Poste Italiane. As active stakeholder in the area of cyber security, the agency may have a vested
interest in presenting a picture of Italy’s cyber security that is not reassuring by stressing weaknesses rather strengths of the
Italian information infrastructure system. See, C. Giustozzi, “Italia patria del malware?” Punto Informatico, May 12, 2012
http://punto‐informatico.it/3513450/PI/Commenti/italia‐patria‐del‐malware.aspx. The “Symantec Threat report 2011” shows
Italy as highly infected only as far as bots are concerned,
(published April 2012), and the independent report by HostExploit shows Italy scoring well on a “badness” scale (Germany and
the Netherlands, for example get a worse score), http://hostexploit.com/downloads/viewdownload/7‐public‐reports/39‐global‐
security‐report‐april‐2012.html). These results are also graphically visible in here: http://globalsecuritymap.com/#nl.
REEDOM ON THE
Political speech was constrained online for 12 days before the December 2012 election
under a law banning parties from campaigning online (see L
In April 2013, the legislature overturned that law, but kept restrictions on campaign
emails (see V
2012 amendments to the Copyright Law criminalized intentionally downloading pirated
content, though lawyers called for civil penalties (see V
Anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech proliferated online amid real-world territorial
disputes (see V
A constitutional revision promoted by the newly-elected LDP party threatens to erode
freedoms and rights that “violate public order” (see V
Obstacles to Access (0-25)
Limits on Content (0-35)
Violations of User Rights (0-40)
*0=most free, 100=least free
REEDOM ON THE
Internet and digital media freedom are generally well established in Japan, where the constitution
protects all forms of speech and prohibits censorship. Given this broad lack of restrictions,
however, some legislation disproportionately penalizes specific online activities.
Businesses started to recognize the potential of the internet after 1996, when major companies such
as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and Fujitsu offered ISP services. In the
early 2000s, providers introduced high-speed broadband. The world’s first large-scale mobile
internet service, iMode, was pioneered in 1999 by the nation’s largest mobile carrier, NTT
DoCoMo. Today, the internet is a major part of social infrastructure with 79 percent penetration.
Japan’s internet industry is characterized by voluntary self-regulation. The government, especially
the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, maintains a hands-off approach when it comes
to online content. Law enforcement agencies tend to push for stronger official regulation, and
sometimes make arrests based on online activity. Police made a misguided attempt to reign in the
chaotic discussion site 2channel in 2012, briefly charging its founder with abetting a drug dealer
who had posted a message, but later backed off. Four others, including a student, were detained for
several days in July 2012 when police believed them responsible for terror threats sent after
malware commandeered their computers.
Japan’s lawmakers also struggle to balance freedom with protection online, with mixed success. A
revised copyright law in effect since October 2012 criminalized the deliberate download of a single
pirated file; an offence now punishable with jail time. The law already threatens uploaders with up
to 10 years in jail—making the commercial distribution of illegally copied entertainment in Japan
subject to heavier sentences than the commercial distribution of child pornography.
Other developments were more positive, particularly a change to restrictions on political speech on
the internet that took place in April 2013. In December 2012, politicians stopped using the web for
12 days prior to the general election, which brought the conservative Liberal Democratic Party to
power, following an outdated law against online campaigning. Four months after the social-media
savvy Shinzo Abe assumed office as prime minister on December 26, the ban was reversed, though
confusing limits remain on campaign emails and advertising.
Troublingly, Abe’s social networking expertise shows signs of turning manipulative, and his
rhetoric against neighboring South Korea and China is echoed in increasingly xenophobic online
discourse, which in turn fuels right-wing demonstrations. At the same time, the LDP is seeking to
change the very core of Japan’s free speech protections by revising the constitution so that rights
Downloading and viewing child pornography for personal, non‐commercial use is legal. A draft law criminalizing possession of
child pornography has been in the pipeline since 2009 yet most opposition parties do not support the current language.
Ayako Mie, “Election Campaigning Takes to Net: New law Opens Web to Candidates, Voters Ahead of Upper House Poll,”
Japan Times, April 11, 2013, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/04/11/national/election‐campaigning‐takes‐to‐
REEDOM ON THE
“shall not violate public interest”—a disturbing change of emphasis. A national referendum must
still approve constitutional revisions. So far, however, Abe’s nationalism has attracted some
popular support, to the possible detriment of the online space.
In general, Japanese people experience few obstacles to internet access, with penetration at 79
percent in 2012.
In late 2011, official figures measured household penetration at 86 percent, and
99 percent for businesses with over 100 employees.
Among individuals, figures show that 79 percent used a home computer to access the internet.
Another 66 percent used mobile phones, and another 20 percent used smartphones. Game
consoles, tablets, and internet-capable TV amounted to less than 10 percent of usage each. Few still
use dial-up connections in Japan, since 60 percent have fiber-to-the-home broadband, according to
2013 government figures.
Access is high quality with competitive speeds. In April 2013, So-net,
an ISP backed by Sony, said it was launching the world’s fastest internet service for home use in
The average cost of internet access is around 5,000 yen ($50) per month,
though many providers
bundle digital media subscriptions, Voice over IP (VoIP) and e-mail addresses, pushing expenses
higher. While this remains within reach of most, declining average incomes make staying connected
increasingly costly, especially for the younger generation.
NTT, formerly a state monopoly, was privatized in 1985 and reorganized in 1999 under a law
promoting functional separation between the company’s mobile, fixed-line, and internet services.
Asymmetric regulation, which creates stricter rules for carriers with higher market share, helped
diversify the industry, though critics say the expense of switching providers—and the
inconvenience of losing an email address and other services—ties customers to the dominant
players and creates a barrier for new entrants.
While the telecommunications market looks open,
International Telecommunication Union, “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000‐2012,”
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “Communication Service Use Trend, 2011” [in Japanese],
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “Broadband Subscription Trend, 2013” [in Japanese],
Jay Alabaster, “Sony ISP Launches World's Fastest Home Internet, 2Gbps,” PC World, April 15, 2013,
Informal Freedom House survey of providers’ costs, 2013.
The average monthly income for working households in 2010 was 700 yen (US$7) less than it was in 1990. See, Ministry of
Internal Affairs and Communications, “Average Monthly Income and Expenditure per Household (Workers) 1955‐2010,”
Statistics Bureau, http://www.stat.go.jp/data/chouki/zuhyou/20‐06.xls.
“Law Concerning Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Etc.,” 1984, amended 2005, available on the Ministry of
Internal Affairs and Communications website,
Toshiya Jitsuzumi, “An Analysis of Prerequisites for Japan’s Approach to Network Neutrality,” paper submitted to the
Proceedings of the Telecommunincations Policy Research Conference 2012, http://bit.ly/1dPQDcb.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested