Italy proposes mandatory licenses for people who upload video

Italy's Berlusconi regime, already known around the world as an enemy of free speech and popular access to the tools of communication, has now floated a proposal to require Italians to get an "uploader's license" in order to put any "moving pictures" on the Internet. The government claims that this is required as part of the EU's product placement disclosure rules, which is about as ridiculous assertion as I've heard this month.
"The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions," opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet "of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound," requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

"Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea," said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita...

"It's the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That's why anyone doing Web TV -- even from their attic at home -- must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations," Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.

Proposed Web video restrictions cause outrage in Italy (Thanks, Sal!)

(Image: Manifestazione No Berlusconi Day Cartello in piazza a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Il Foro Giornale's photostream)


  1. Bring it on. The more such laws, the better! They just hasten the universal adoption of encryption, anonymization and foreign web hosting, and the day when network culture will be completely opaque to governments.

    1. Your optimism strikes me as ill founded.

      For instance, anybody who would consider requiring authorization for video uploads wouldn’t flinch at requiring authorization for the use of encryption(authorization would, of course, be available for connecting to recognized financial institutions and commerce outfits, so that good honest upstanding consumers would not be inconvenienced, not to mention the advantage of having a new carrot/stick mechanism to hold over institutions whose business would require an encryption authorization). With the advances in deep packet inspection and related tech, your ISP would be technically capable of ratting you out easily enough.

      Anonymization? Your ISP knows what traffic is going to and from your machine, they are carrying it there after all, even if they can’t see inside encrypted packets. Tor has its uses; but the fact that you are using it is blatantly obvious to a competent adversary, and you can’t reasonably expect an entity evil enough to be worth evading to tolerate the means of evasion for very long.

      The internet isn’t magic, it runs over wires which somebody owns, wires which are buried in some country’s dirt. No amount of cleverness can get you past the implications of this fact.

  2. I believe that under that wording that Flash and even animated GIFs would require licensing. I wonder what impact that will have on advertising (and websites from 1995).

  3. Exactly. I was thinking that the best that could be said is that it will significantly curtail animated GIFs and annoying Flash ads.

  4. I’m betting all my horses this is the typical “start with 1000 to obtain 100” move. People over here will scream about loss of freedoms until the law proposal will be changed into an apparently less malicious one. But the government intent from the beginning was to mandate the last law.

    This happens everywhere every year: a government wants to raise some tax by 10% so they tell people they must raise that tax by 20%; the opposition will fake a protest lasting from days to months until they settle to the 10% goal. At that point the govt obtains what it wanted from the beginning and the opposition fools its voters into believing they really can control the government. This is how fake democracies work, it’s always the case in Italy and I’m totally sure it will apply to that law as well.

  5. The Italian political class is terrified by the web because they have realized that it cant be controlled by their political advertisements. If Italy adopt this kind of law I will buy a airplane ticket to change my country!!!

  6. Actually this is an old news: the really new one is the “Private copy TAX” (or as I call it “The Xbox 360 tax”) on every on everyday digital consumer products able to store music or video such as iPods, Hard Disks, computers, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, DVD recorders, mobile phones… casually they even throwed in a 16 euro tax on MY SKY: the Video Recorder from SKY that is the Berlusconi’s biggest competitor in the TV market.

    Some example of tax rates in euros:

    Pack of 20 CD 80 ‘5.87
    Pack of 20 DVD 4.7 GB 8.2
    A Memory Card 8 GB 0.24
    An 8 GB USB stick 0.72
    iPod Classic 160 GB 16.10
    16 MB Mp3 Player 9.66
    Video recorder with integrated hard disk from 250 GB 22.54
    Console games with 120 GB memory 6.44
    TV decoder with integrated hard disk from 160 GB 16.10
    Multimedia External Hard Drive 640 GB 12.88

    Note: we already had a tax on some recordable media but this time every digital memory.

  7. Why oh why didn’t anyone put Berlusconi in a mental institution after his affair with a 19 year old was discovered like it happened with Mrs. Robinson? Or he could at least not have been prime minister for six month.
    Could please someone hit him again with a Duomo, first time obviously didn’t help much.
    (Not meant as an actual call for violence, but you know that, don’t you?)

  8. I have to say, as much as I hated and loathed Bush and considered him an enemy to any liberty minded person, Berlusconi actually seems to be a much scarier dude by a full order of magnitude, at least when it comes to being a domestic terror. I don’t know if the US just had better checks and balances or what, but the shit Berlusconi has been getting away with is shocking not just in its content, but on the wide waging impact it is having on society.

  9. Well, this law won’t pass.
    And even if it passes, you know, Europe, countries nearby…You’ll have plenty of people (Italian expatriates, or not) willing to upload harsh videos from France, UK, Switzerland (new and improved: now in Schengen zone !), anywhere…

    The next step would so be to block videos websites, but the European Union won’t allow that. And considering Berlusconi’s Italy credibility (corruption, deficit, so on…), he is not in good position. He would certainly bolster and go on, and provoke Italy implosion or something like that.

    Berlusconi is a clown, but of the evil kind.

  10. The current Italian government that has been at power roughly since 2001 with Berlusconi at the helm has always had this obsession with Internet censorship. THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY MEDIUM THAT IT CANNOT CONTROL OR INFLUENCE.

    Berlusconi owns 3 private TV stations and his gov’t indirectly controls the other 3 public ones. He also owns dozens of newspapers and magazines. As many have said, written and warned him, he doesn’t believe in governing a democratic country…he wants to own it like a dictator.

    Even with his billions he perfectly realizes he can’t influence all the negative publicity the Net is bringing him.

    I’m sure the entire world has noticed that Italy is not the “La Dolce Vita” country it once was. The Mafia is completely out of control, we have Russian-like corruption running rampant, a practically non existent opposition, a prime minister throwing whore and escort parties without end, and restaurants in Rome charging tourists 900 USD for lunch for two. The Net naturally picked all this up…and it’s getting on the government’s nerve!

    Correction: It’s getting on a 73-year-old billionaire’s nerves.

    What to do? Time for some “legalized” censorship. Yes, an Italian can pick up a dot com address and get foreign web hosting but the landlines and frequencies are owned by Telecom Italia whose owners go to bed with Berlusconi’s gov’t.

    Pay close attention, folks. The situation in Italy is finally starting to get out of hand. Unfortunately, last week there was a “hint” of ethnic cleansing in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Yes, there was! Yours truly lives in Southern Italy.

    Now, we’ll need special gov’t permission to upload a video to YouTube.

    Have a great Sunday everyone!


  11. does anyone else feel like fascism is actually an invisible life form that once ousted from one government looks for another politician host body to occupy. It’s like the US finally woke up and voted out the evil so now it’s moved to back Italy to resurrect Mussolini. I think maybe there’s more than one too.
    Help me out here, once Chaney croaks, which I hope will be real soon so I can piss on his grave, what possible world leader will be assimilated? And don’t say Sarah Palin, evil doesn’t do crazy AND stupid.

  12. You probably want to know that the sign held up in this post’s picture is a quotation saying “Single article in B.’s Constitution: ‘I am myself and you ain’t shit'”.

    That would be from a famous movie about the lesser-known historical figure of the so-called Marquis Le Cricket (rough translation), a character from the nobility who used this simple phrase to end all discussions with common people. Just like our Beloved Leader.

    Who, by the way, DIDN’T have an affair with a 19-years old, as told in one comment. She was 16-17 at the time, and 18 being legal age in Italy this makes the PM a bona fide pedophile – but of course this little aspect of the scandal was hushed up by his own media…

  13. berlusconi has control on government and opposition, on media and on society with the power of money, more money than what we can understand (just think that mr mangano, out of jail now, on the top level of drug commerce for the entire north of italy lived for 3 year in his house as a groom) and with the power of an untold threat. the ignorance they reveal with this law project is a proof of how mr b consider democracy: as you see in the picture me is me and you are nothing. about anonymization ok, it’s a first form of defense, but who should be ashamed? italian people is working for a free country and the web is a strong weapon ( the no berlusconi day was the first italian international protest made without the help of any party or organization, you saw purple flags because it’s the only colour not used by any party) Senator carlucci is working on a law for digital signature on any word you type on the web. sorry for my bad english.

  14. As it goes, Italy (my beloved adopted-home)is already slowly corroding citizens rights to free and simple net access. Anyone who wishes to offer a wifi connection to the public MUST have a copy of the user’s ID card or other photo ID, plus they MUST retain records of all the websites that person visited, just in case they visit websites useful to “terrorists.”

    Although you can see where the “ant-terror” law is coming from, its only effect is to push most providers of free wifi into switching their signal off or encrypting it. At the same time the big 4 mobile phone operators make a killing on mobile phone internet data charges.

    So.. next step they introduce a law allowing only registered users to upload video? Doesn’t surprise me. The government has already shot Average Joe in the foot, why not shoot him in the other, too. Hey, while they’re at it, guess they might as well get him in the knee, too….

    Such a shame… this country is full of smart, tech savvy genii, but a crazy control freak president can so easily wreck their chances of a decent career that many smart young Italians are forced to emigrate. C’mon Italy! Time to stop voting for the crazy little bald guy, hey?

  15. Wonder how long before people just start publishing stills from the videos they’ve recorded. Next up – government approval of any image whatsoever (after that permission just to talk to your neighbor).

  16. As an Italian living abroad, I’m utterly ASHAMED of the politics of my country. I don’t know how we got this low, but my plans of coming back are fading away day after day…

  17. K, this might be a dumb question, but how could they do what they say they want to do? This has been nagging at me every time I see news about somewhere trying to restrict access to only some of the internet. For every proxy you block, more will be made. The internet has become so organic for most of us that using it often feels more like speaking to people in a room, than broadcasting information over airwaves. Any attempt to censor speech on the internet is doomed to fail in the long run. Just like attempting to censor people’s relations, or thoughts. So, my question remains, what tools do they have that could do what they say they want to do?

    1. ISP based traffic shaping, certain files/data packets types simply wouldnt get transferred around the italian networks

  18. Sorry for getting the age of one of Berlusconis girls wrong – but does it really matter? There are just too many and when he gets sick of them, they often get a job in the European Union.
    I’ve just looked up Mr. Mangano as suggested in Wikipedia. I’m shocked – how much more dirt does one have to get before Berlusconi finally falls?!
    But no, he’s just a nice, virile man with good business sense, no?

  19. I see a number of comments here celebrating the ousting of Bush. I think a little bit more caution is in order. It’s understandable that all of us react more strongly to threats against the Internet than to, say, the steel industry – we’re all net-literate (thus able to understand why these things are threats, unlike most people) and we all love the online world. This legislations is a direct kick to our happy sacks.

    But just because President Obama is leaving the Internet more-or-less alone doesn’t mean that he’s a friend of freedom. Under his watch the government has taken financial control of the banks and the automakers, nd nxt h’s gng fr Mdcn*. Gvrnmnt cntrl f prvt prprty s th vry dfntn f fscsm.

    Just because he isn’t specifically an enemy of our narrow interest group doesn’t mean he isn’t an enemy of freedom in general.

    * knw sclzd mdcn s pplr cncpt rnd hr, s n brf: )why nt ls sclz fd – r clthng – r trnsprt? W ll nd ths thngs t srvv, s wll; nd B) d y rlly thnk th bg mny mkrs wth th lbbysts, th ns wh’v crrptd nd brkn th crrnt systm n mrc, wll b hrmd by ths lgsltn? r wll thy b n n ll th scrt ngttns?

    1. OK, stop it right there.

      Bad enough Jimmie Proof digressed into Cheney and Palin. But this thread is not going to digress into a flamewar about the health care bill. Back on topic, people.

      1. Apologies, last thing I wanted was to start a healthcare debate; I was just offering a little bit to back up my statement, since people on both sides of the argument frequently assume that all the people on the other side are crazy, when in fact there are good arguments and smart people on both.

        More to the point: although policy debates can be interesting (in the correct context), the underlying problem is that the specific policy is largely irrelevant when discussing party politics. Vote Republican, they’ll nationalize X. Vote Democrat, they’ll nationalize Y. Either way is just as bad, even though the X – in this case the Internet – is one of our priorities.

        It’s too easy to be blind to the mistakes made by one’s own ‘side’ in the argument.

    2. This has nothing to do with Obama. Stop pushing your agenda. The world exists outside of the US, you know…

      Can someone throw something better than a statue of a church at Berlusconi already? He deserves far worse.

      The craziest thing? His popularity in Italy increased after this attack because people felt sorry for him! There is also speculation that the attack was staged for that very purpose, which would lend a lot of support to the theory that Berlusconi wants to control the web as it is what is currently making his spin & lies come undone.

      “He’s corrupt, connected to the underworld, handled the 2009 eathquake aftermath terribly and is a womaniser who spends public $$$ to satify his needs…. but he was BLEEDING! omg! poor guy! Let’s just forget that he’s been ass-raping Italians for the last decade”.
      How fickle has politics become (or more accurately, when did people become such suckers)??

      This guy is scum. Italian politics are an international laughing stock. Do you think the two might be connected?

      1. I am italian living in roma, and i can tell you his popolarity is going down even for the people who judges politics only from tv news, they are still the most, that’s the real problem. don’t believe the polls, berlusconi’s media are their first customer… the place were he was hited wasn’t piazza del duomo as they say, but a small place beside the church, and it was half empty too. it was an event of the first italian party in the biggest city of north italy. a party without people you can see. if anibody asks i’ll be glad to link about it. italian politics goin up are the worst we have, or they couldn’t make career. aniway i can’t read italians sayin please invade us, a lots of honest people is working for to make italy a better place to live, come back home and help us, somebody else has to go away… sorry for my english, i would like to say better what i think

        1. I think you made your views very clear, Pompeo. And you are right. I know many Italians who are turning on him, but not enough of them are powerful. Plus, him letting so many Chinese in has given him a large voting block.

          I for one would love to see the link you refer to.

          I do hope Italians will rise up and stop these people. I have plans to live in Italy some day but if this continues it will never happen.

          1. i don’t know the netiquette. i think i will send the link to boing boing but i could link here too if i can so you can see it in any case. anyway i’ll read again… it’s late night and yawn, you know…

  20. As an Italian living a few kilometers away from the room where those laws are signed I hereby ask to anybody listening out there: please invade us before it’s too late!
    What we are seeing here is going to be exported in other countries as well. The Mafia is already doing big business in Germany and eastern Europe – I mean the Italian Mafia, not the Russian one.
    Some people say Berlusconi will leave the seat in a few years anyway, that’s true but some of those put in power by him are even more dangerous in my opinion. It’s the entire political class that should be removed as a single corrupt entity, fake opposition included.

  21. id just like to point out that italy is a bit of an international non-entity. i think its funny that they are taking this kind of stand and aligning themselves with iran and china… because this is about the only thing going on in italy that is going to make news, beyond the fashion industry mentioning milan once a year. so… have at it, italy. you let everyone know just where you stand on anti-governmental speech.

  22. @phishrow
    I think you’re being overly pessimistic, though I do take your point about ultimate reliance on a physical infrastructure level.
    I think with a clever enough application of stega and crypto, it’s pretty hard to stop people swapping whatever data they like – and as volumes of traffic increase, stega (as a wrapper for crypto) gets easier all the time.

  23. This is probably going to be his last mandate, if nothing else because the Italian electorate is notorious for voting out the government-of-the-day at the first given chance (it happened to every single government from the early 90s, and almost as regularly in the previous 50 years). So he might as well go for broke and try to seal the crypto-fascist regime he’s perfected in the last 15 years by directly or indirectly dominating mass-media (quite skilfully, to be honest).

    His only real obstacle is Murdoch’s Sky, which is able to move some real muscle in Europe. The Italian intertubes will die a slow “death by a thousand cuts”. In the country, Silvio has very few enemies at his level, and none of them is very interested in defending the ‘net (if anything, they would benefit from its death). Even the FIAT group is basically leaving the country.

    Make no mistake, he will probably win. He controls the agenda and the media, he’s the only real personality around, so he wins even when he loses. If you didn’t like his Italy, you’ve probably left the country already. I have.

    (Regardless, expect his son to enter politics in the next 10 years; he’s smart enough and quite good-looking, will win easy and will probably keep enacting the same policies.)

    1. I fully understand you toyg, my few words in english are cutted with an axe… my sister too is outside the country. but I hope that for the first time we have the chance ( a very very small chance of course at the moment) to close the first republic at least. The more he do, more people will understand who he really is. I have a dream is the last post on boingboing when i leave this comment… think about a real democratic party, in the american conception: everybody inside it e then politics in its best meanings. Of course i’m not talking about the pd. he win even if he loose because there is no opposition inside it. but evrybody understand it now

  24. i think we are at the begin of the italian crisis. a lots of people will loose their work in the next year. we have no investments from outside the country, our public titles are the worst considered of the eu, the domestic demand is going down. our economy is becoming a giant sci fi recycling machine, it’s a very critical time for us, many people is understanding we have something to do

  25. My suggestion to Berlusconi. Just stop talking or acting CRAPS then only positive video will be uploaded by internet user.

    It isn’t that hard!!

  26. of course i mean ip address and not digital signature. sorry. they want to close access to anonymous. this law project is the threat, “carrot” follows

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