back to article Users shut down Italian Wikipedia to protest Wiretapping Act

Italian Wikipedia has been hidden in protest at a new Act making its way through the Italian Parliament. The Wiretapping Act or "DDL intercettazioni" could make Wikipedia legally untenable in Italy if it passes into law. Visitors to any page of the Italian Wikipedia site yesterday were redirected to a letter signed "from the …

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Anonymous Coward

This bill is clearly misnamed.

It should be called "The Let's-Make-It-Illegal-To-Say-Anything-Bad-About-Berlusconi Bill".

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Eh, better change that before Berlusconi reads that, might not like what you are implying

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WTF?

And lets describe the protest as "The day that children's homework improved" ?

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I don't know about homework in Italy, but it seems to me that in the UK, schoolwork means "look it up on Google or Wikipedia and type it up in Word or make a chart in Excel, or make a powerpoint presentation about it" or have I missed something?

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Anonymous Coward

I protest *against* American-style omission of required prepositions.

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Anonymous Coward

From what I gather of the Italian political system it's pretty messed up already with corruption more or less a way of life.

This is a terrible precedent to set and we should consider booting them out of the EU until they behave like adults and not just a bunch of spoilt little children!

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Wrong target?

Are there users of the Italian wikipedia outside Italy? Seems a bit tough on them.

Are there users of the non-Italian wikis *inside* Italy who are still able to access legally fraught material?

What a pity you can't tell which jurisdiction applies to a client just from its IP address. Perhaps someone should suggest this to ICANN.

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Yes, Italians are free to communicate what they are told to communicate.

Looks Italy has another democratically elected fascist dictator. Il Duce rides again...

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To paraphrase Steve...

... Just change the article, its not a big deal.

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And that helped how...?

So, to protest the chance they might be censored at some point in the future, the Italian Wikis censored themselves. Yeah, I'm sure that really upset the status quo and will bring cries of grief from those pushing the "Let's-Make-It-Illegal-To-Say-Anything-Bad-About-Berlusconi" Bill (kudos to Mr AC).

Haven't they worked out that all they need to do is wait for the "complaint-cum-censorship" to come in about a Wiki article, put up the requested text, and then get a pet Wikifiddler to raise a counter complaint to change it back? They can then re-issue the original page and wait for another complaint, happy that they can carry on the process indefinately. They can even add a new Wiki article about the changes, exposing the original version and suggesting why the parties making complaints might want it changed, offering the opportunity for more mudslinging.

But then I suppose stamping your feet and throwing your toys out of the pram is more in keeping with the Latin tradition of melodramatics.

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Big Brother

It's much better

to strike down the law before it becomes law, instead of doing clever workarounds on said draconian laws. The latter course of action is commonplace in countries ruled by dictators, tyrants, or military juntas ... what does this say about Italy?

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Optional

I'd like to think this is a troll, but I have a horrible feeling that it isn't.

So, Troll:

-if they hadn't 'thrown their toys from the pram', do you think you'd know about this? Do you think anyone would? They can't generate public pressure by just sitting and waiting. This puts the issue in view, which was precisely the point - and is the point of all protest. People don't protest because they think the government will read their signs and go, "Oh, I hadn't thought of that!"

- Do you really think people are only upset because of Berlusconi? Hell, if that were a worldwide law, I could demand to change your post because it insults people who oppose you - among whom I obviously am.

The chilling effect would be monumental, from Reg articles to music to movie reviews. As written, it appears to subject every word on the internet to the whim of any vested interest, with no oversight or recourse. But you can only frame it in the context of wikipedia, and since you don't like them, anything bad for wikipedia is good.

Talk about myopia...

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FAIL

RE: Optional

"I'd like to think this is a troll...." Oh dear, it's one of those fashionably irate types!

".....-if they hadn't 'thrown their toys from the pram', do you think you'd know about this?...." Actually, I've known about the Italian wiretap laws and ongoing protests for a lot longer than just yesterday, indeed I remember an article on the BBC News website back in July last year about some journo strike relating to the new law. IIRC, the law itself first went to the Italian parliament back in 2008, so I'd have to ask where have you been for the last three years? I suppose I must just be better read and a lot more informed than you. Maybe the question should be "If they hadn't thrown their toys out of the pram, would the fashionably irate types, always late to the party because they're too busy following Gawd alone knows what newsless protest websites, know about it?"

"......Do you really think people are only upset because of Berlusconi?...." Ah, too fashionably irate to actually understand the reference. The law is thought to have arisen after Italian journos used wiretapping to record Berlusconi's private calls. To have done so in the UK or US would already be illegal under existing privacy and telecoms laws. I guess you were too busy being fashionably irate to bother studying up on the legal angle either?

".....if that were a worldwide law...." In theory, it is a worldwide law to Italians as it could affect any website or publication available in Italy. But, the law only demands that the publisher has to post the complaining parties response, with equal prominence and unedited, within 48 hours. It does not insist the original article is removed, the complaining party would still have to go to court and prove libel/slander to get that done. So much for your melodramatic frothing about a "chilling effect" - are you Italian by any chance, maybe from Chelsea?

"....Talk about myopia..." What, you're visually-impaired as well as ill-informed? How unfortunate. But I suppose that gives an excuse as to why you'd be posting without a clue.

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Happy

Your reply made me smile.

Either I'm laughing-gas giddy (possible, certainly) or your response really did generate the pleasing sequence of surprise, indignation, quizzicalness, wide-eyed amusement, and finally a jovial geniality (or perhaps a genial joviality?) which will make the rest of my evening quite pleasant.

It's rather nice to not feel that forum-urge to retort point-by-point. A real idiot, there's no point in arguing with; with a normal person one feels obligated to try because it might be possible to get through. But you're smart, so there's no way in hell I'm gonna change your mind. So, since you probably feel the same (unless you get fashionably irate a lot), we can both chalk it up as a non-learning experience.

You wright well, by the way. Next time you should write well about something you're right about.

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FAIL

RE: David W.

So, apart from admitting you can't supply a counter to any of the points I raised, all you did was trype (sic) a load of nonsense, and then insist I'm wrong. Strange, when someone can't supply any proof of their beliefs but insist on their correctness and everyone elses' wrongness, we tend to call that type of gullibility "religion". It sounds like you're so wrapped up in being anti-"The Man" that you simply didn't bother to read any background material.

And then there's the issue of political question - isn't Wikipaedia supposed to be aploitical? Or will it now also start to censor itself so it only covers views that the staffers at Wikipaedia agree with? If the respective wiretap law gets passed in Italy, it will do so by the democraticly elected Italian government. If it is so evil, then it shouldn't be hard to elect a parliament that will revoke it.

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Go

Anti-"The Man"?

Really? Anti-"The Man"?

I encourage you to resist, in future, the urge to make wild assumptions about people - otherwise, you risk labelling people who do military tech hardware as being "Anti-"The Man"". If I were "Anti-"The Man"", I most likely would have been picketing the AUSA mil trade show I attended, rather than being screamed at by the picketers; if I were "Anti-"The Man"" I most likely would not be spending time at government facilities with big honkin' gates outside.

(Keeping them inside doesn't work so well.)

So, no, I'm not anti-"The Man". I find people who say things like "The Man" seriously to be odius - and, often, odiferous. But I also don't particularly want the government telling me what to think - or ordering me to stop expressing myself at the whim of any given interloper, with no oversight. The fact that you apparently think that any given law is a-ok by definition if it was passed by an elected body is chilling, to say the least. And you'll be eating your words if ever a democratically elected body decides to ban pompous, crisply-worded forum posts. I mean, literally, you'll be eating them. You might want to mix them up, first; the 'I's and 'W's are kind of pointy.

At any rate, this law is definitely odius, whether you're interested in bongs or bombs. Its passage itself signifies the deterioration of the rule of law, not an addition to it. And that's why it's naive to think that "it shouldn't be hard to elect a parliament that will revoke it". It took an awfully long time to revoke some so-evil things in the US - and I'm guessing elsewhere, too. This isn't about wikipedia - it's your inability or refusal to see beyond the wiki angle that triggered my charge of myopia.

Oh, and not to get all schoolboyish, but I actually didn't admit that I "can't supply a counter to any of" your arguments. I said that I didn't feel compelled to. While admission and withholding may be considered equivalents in the police departments of your average mid-east autocracy, or south-asian tin-pot dictatorship, they are, in fact, different. I find it interesting that someone who requires so much precision of others is so forgiving of sloppiness in his own work.

Finally, I take umbrage - a very large amount of umbrage; perhaps two kilos or more - at your accusation of my having written "a load of nonsense". I wrote at -least- a load and a half, maybe two loads. And the dryer only takes about 2/3rds of a load at a time, so it's really an awful lot of work, and I just feel that it should be acknowledged. Do I have to do everything around here?

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Boffin

RE: Anti-"The Man"?

".....But I also don't particularly want the government telling me what to think - or ordering me to stop expressing myself at the whim of any given interloper...." With regard to the bit of the law that the Wikis are moaning about, AFAIK, the proposed law does not stop you saying what you like, it merely insists you print the offended party's response with equal prominence inside a given timeline (48 hours) or face a fine. It does not stop you printing/posting whatever you like. You are still liable to libel/slander laws regardless, and so is the response the offended individual asks to be posted. So, no censorship, no great stifling of freedom, despite what the protesters want to pretend. One would have to surmise that the protest is more to do with Berlusconi's political leanings (rightwards) and those of the protesters (leftwards). Not good given that Wikipedia is supposedly apolitical.

"....The fact that you apparently think that any given law is a-ok by definition if it was passed by an elected body is chilling...." Actually, the original bill was proposed in 2008 and is still being fought over in the Italian parliament. It hasn't just sailed through some fascist/dictatorial rubberstamping process, it has had full and proper democratic consideration. Should the public at large prove unduly upset at the final law, they may decide it means so much to them that they don't vote for those politicians that supported the law. If they do still vote for them then it just shows the majority couldn't give a fig. That's how democracy works. You may feel that your views are just so gosh-darn clever that you should be given greater consideration than the average Joe, but then that's the real basis of dicatatorship - elitism - and the undemocratic thought. Seeing as you aren't willing/can't argue the point, in two loads or three, it is unlikley that you would be able to persuade any members of the public to join you on top of your dryer.

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Pint

You freedom of speech / thought - and that includes the right to *not be forced to say something*, especially with no appeal and no judicial oversight, cannot be voted away. The tern for your such is tyranny of the majority', and while you seem to think it's fine, most don't.

As an example, Jim Crow laws were passed by a majority. By your logic, that's a-ok: stomp on minorities inalienable rights? Well, the majority said so! Get to the back of the bus!

It says something in the constitution about, 'we hold these truths to be self-evident'. There was a lot of work tben - and still is - to make that a reality. But I don't think that a self-evident right, the right to write and -not- write what I wish, and that if what I write is so egregious, the matter should be settled in a court room, and not the basement of a kid who demands that you put "PS3 gay player!! How gay are you haha" on your freelance game development page. Think it's unfair? Tough shit; all he has to do is request, not justify. But hey - no worries. The majority voted for it, so it has to be right!

How arrogant of me to think otherwise.

PS: Hey, don't go trashing on the top of my dryer. It's fuckin' slamming on friday nights. You should see the DJs we get - three weeks ago we had Ferry Corsten and Paul Oakenfold, back-to-back 4-hour sets. It was epic, man - ep***IC.

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RE: David W.

".....As an example, Jim Crow laws were passed by a majority....." And were overturned by the larger majority of the US public/government. You're not making a very good case. You're also wittering away about the US constitution and completely forgetting both that amendments have been made to that constitution, and that the case in hand is Italy, not America, so different rights apply.

".....not the basement of a kid who demands that you put "PS3 gay player!! How gay are you haha" on your freelance game development page...." Another poor example - games forums are full of such childish comments. And you would have to make a specific statement about the childish gamer before he could demand a rebuttal be posted, so unless you're in the habit of engaging in childish slanging matches over games there really is zero worth to your argument.

".....How arrogant of me to think otherwise...." Well, no, I would have said more naive and easily led rather than arrogant.

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Mushroom

Italian government / legal system is seriously messed up

Berlusconi is the guy whose government passed a law making top government officials unprosecutable (including his Silvioness, natch). However f***ed-up that is, it's hardly surprising, because Italy is also the place where police and public prosecutors first decide beforehand the desired outcome, and then go looking for the 'proof' that will lead to said desired outcome.

It's not just Berlusconi, there are loads of public and semi-public figures who would love to keep their dealings hidden. Being able to alter Wikipedia entries about them is a wet dream for them. Moratti (Saras), Tronchetti-Provera (Pirelli and telecom Italia), Montezemolo (Fiat / Ferrari), the Geronzi family (Capitalia) etc have fingers in too many pies, and openness and availability of information is complete anathema for them.

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Big Brother

Double-quotes in the wrong place...

Given the way Italy's going with its new-fangled regime of journalistic repression,

-- -- Freedom of "communication" is guaranteed under Article 21 of Italy's constitution.

should probably be rewritten as

-- -- "Freedom" of communication is guaranteed under Article 21 of Italy's constitution.

(with appropriate quotey hand gestures thrown in for emphasis)...

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Anonymous Coward

I find this “sciopero” (this word just does not translate to a civil “strike”) and the endorsement by the Wikimedia Foundation absolutely unacceptable, and frankly quite disgusting.

http://blog.wikimedia.org/2011/10/04/regarding-recent-events-on-italian-wikipedia

I’m no fan of Berlusconi, but what Wikipedia has done here is it lost its political independence. Forget about 3 days of downtime, that’s not the real issue. This is, so far as I know, unprecedented, and the Foundation should think twice before making this happen ever again. Wikipedia is not a political platform for a bunch of admins that act like they own the place (yes, even more than in the English WP).

This proposed law is totally unenforceable, and more to the point, it does not affect the Italian WP in the slightest, along with any other website which is hosted outside of the Italian borders. It’s the law of the state of Florida that matters.

There are many countries that have English as their official language. If one of them descends into (or already is) a dictatorship, are we going to pull the English WP in sign of solidarity? No? Didn’t think so!!

How about the Internet censorship and erosion/lack of freedom of speech and civil rights in, I don’t know, China? Are we going to close the Mandarin WP? No? Didn’t think so either!!

NEVER AGAIN please. Knowledge is global, and WP is a GLOBAL project, it belongs to EVERY human being.

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The proposed law is not enforceable on the text content on the project itself, but an individual CAN be prosecuted for what he/she posts on a site.

And Italy did try to bring action against YouTube for stuff posted on the Italian version of the service.

The Italian Wikipedia users, though, are lucky that the WMF agrees with them. If I was them, I would have gotten clearance FIRST.

IMO, Wikipedia should oppose political movements that aim to stifle it. Also, it is far easier to oppose a law before it's passed, then trying to remove it later. Also, this is Italy - it's supposed to be a democratic country

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RE: vincentomoh

All full of righteous indignation, but completely missing the point.

"....but an individual CAN be prosecuted for what he/she posts on a site...." An individual can already be sued for libel, this law is about giving immediate redress to those that want to protest about what someone has posted about them.

"....Wikipedia should oppose political movements that aim to stifle it...." Again, how does the law do that? It doesn't stop you posting what you like (subject to libel/slander laws), just insists that if someone complains then you have to post their rebuttal in a similar manner, within 48 hours of the complaint. That's not censorship, that's simply allowing the offended party equal airtime. In effect, wikifiddlers have been doing this for years anyway.

"....it's supposed to be a democratic country." So, it's a law being considered by a bunch of elected MPs, so how is that undemocratic? Think before applying the label given to you by others.

Imagine I am a big media company, and I have several dozen attack-dog lawyers, and you are a struggling businessman with only your good name to help you along. Suppose I post a headline "news" item saying you are a crook. You can go to the courts and sue me, but I'll drag it out as long as I can, bankrupting you and ruining your business, and if I do ever post a retraction it can be below the fold on page three (or the webpage equivalent), where most readers will be too busy eyeing up the jugs on Ms July. And it would be so far into the future that no-one will even remember the original article, and long after you're ruined and your name sullied. But, under the new law, you could go to the media company and insist on them posting your rebuttal even if you didn't decide to sue. In essence, this is actually a law that could be used to help the little man fight the big corporations! Why would anyone not want that? Oh, I see why, if you're a big media company, or one of those journos that doesn't like the other party having a say.....

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