Italy passes Internet censorship laws: regulator can censor sites on 12 days' notice without judicial review

Italy has passed an Internet censorship bill that allows for a regulator to order the national blocking of websites without judicial review. If the website's operator wants to come to Italy to object, they have as little as 12 days to do so. ISPs that fail to comply with the censorship orders face fines of €250,000 per day.

The entertainment industry was quick to voice its satisfaction. "It's good regulation that gives us a much-needed 12-day fast track system," Enzo Mazza, CEO of Fimi, Italy's music industry lobby group, told ZDNet. "So far, when some international sites were involved we could rely only upon the criminal justice system which meant it was between 30 and 45 days before the access to a site was blocked."

However, some lawyers and activists hold a different view. According to them, by speeding up the process, the new regulations pave the way for unfair verdicts.

"Copyright is a complicate matter and I don't see how AgCom, which doesn't have a dedicated copyright team, could explore all the nuances of certain cases with the necessary diligence in such a short time," Guido Scorza, a lawyer and expert in online law at the forefront of the opposition to the document, said.

All this rush could also result in a restriction of the citizens' rights to freedom of expression, he added. With only five days (or three for the fast track) to file their counter arguments, it's very unlikely that any single user would try to fight for their rights to publish the disputed content, thus leaving the door open for uneven-handed decisions. "If you are a judge who would you rule in favour of, the party that was able to back its position or the one that did not even bother to make a case?" Scorza said.

Italy's site-blocking law comes into effect: A threat to Pirate Bay or a curse on online freedom? [Raffaele Mastrolonardo/Zdnet]

(Thanks, Raffaele!)