Has political blogging been outlawed in Italy? Maybe. A disturbing precedent has been laid down, at any rate.
Back in May of 2008, a Sicilian judge determined that historian and blogger Carlo Ruto was guilty of publishing a “clandestine newspaper,” which it turns out is illegal.
How did Ruto’s blog achieve the status of a “clandestine newspaper”? It wasn’t properly registered with the authorities. Also, it had a headline. If your blog entry has a headline, it’s a newspaper, the judge ruled.
The penalty is 250 Euros or up to two years in prison. Ruto was spared imprisonment but fined and ordered to take down the site, which he did. This all goes back to a 1948 law requiring registration of newspapers. Which in 2001 was deviously modified to include websites.
Ruto was targeted for being critical of connections between the Italian government and the mafia. Maybe his case is the exception. But recently, a well-known Italian politician, Giuseppe Giulietti, said that almost the entire contents of the Italian Internet “could be considered illegal.” Bloggers are up in arms, as well they should be.
Sounds incredible. But bloggers in the U.S. have been threatened with similar sledgehammers, in the form of campaign finance regulation.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.