Italian bloggers plan demonstration over fines

Italian bloggers are planning to demonstrate in Rome today against fines of up £10,000 for not giving right of replies to those they write about.

The proposed fines are part of a government bill designed to curb the rights of the media in Italy, with an opposition leader describing the fines as “fascist”.

The main focus of the bill is to prevent the media from publishing wiretap transcripts gathered during criminal investigations.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was himself was recently exposed in the media for discussing female escorts at parties he attended. The information became public through the transcripts of wiretaps the media accessed which were part of a criminal investigation against a businessman.

The bill the bloggers are demonstrating against is set to go before parliament next week, with a clause stipulating that anyone who believes they have been “defamed or misrepresented” in a blog has the right of reply.

Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the anti-corruption Italy of Principles party, who blogs himself, said the proposal was an “insult to freedom and democracy, a fascist measure”.

Bloggers would get 48 hours to deal with requests but if they refused they would face a fine. A similar proposal last year failed to make the statute book though.

The Italian government is also preparing an anti-piracy law that could potentially ban internet users from access after one alleged infringement.

ISPs would be required to use filters against services that infringe copyright, trademark or patents under terms of the draft law.

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