Another idiotic regulatory attempt

The latest idiotic proposed legislation comes from Italy. The proposal is that all blogs and websites need to be registered (and taxed).

Beppe Grillo writes

Ricardo Franco Levi, Prodi’s right hand man , undersecretary to the President of the Council, has written the text to put a stopper in the mouth of the Internet. The draft law was approved by the Council of Ministers on 12 October. No Minister dissociated themselves from it. On gagging information, very quietly, these are all in agreement.
The Levi-Prodi law lays out that anyone with a blog or a website has to register it with the ROC, a register of the Communications Authority, produce certificates, pay a tax, even if they provide information without any intention to make money.

Oh my God, Lets start with the easy stuff.

First, How will they intend to police this law. The law can apply to all Italian sites. What is an Italian site? Is it:

  1. a site with an Italian domain
  2. a site on a server in Italy
  3. a site in Italian

Second, what happens when the site is based in several locations with data pulled from several sources? Do they get a tax reduction?

Third, what is a website? Can you define it legally? Is there a difference between the site, server and domain? What about:

  1. A facebook profile
  2. A blog on blogger
  3. An advert on ebay
  4. A wikipedia page
  5. A flickr profile

These may be unique individual websites – but they can also be seen as part of a larger domain.
Fourth, what about free speech rights? Basically an unregistered website would be in violation of the law but would/should the reaction be to close down the site? What happens if a newspaper does not register can they be closed down?

Fifth, administration. How much money and resource can be used to police a law such as this? Can the revenue it brings in even begin to cover the investigative resources required? No of course not. Imaging attempting to chase every Italian blog. How do you know when they are Italian?

Proposals to regulate the Internet come at regular intervals. Often they are barely thought through and will collapse before they even reach the enactment stage. Some laws on Internet regulation have been enacted but are then thankfully forgotten by those who should enforce them.

In the end proposals such as these show that regulators seem to lack even a basic understanding of the technology which most of us use. They also lack a fundamental modern historical approach to regulation. It is really a case of being condemned to repeat the past since we cannot remember it. All the earlier crappy failed attempts to regulate the Internet have failed but since the people proposing regulation have no memory of this we are doomed to see the same mistakes repeated again and again.

At best this provides a form of light relief and humor.

(via BoingBoing)

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