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Telephone interception: no newspapers today, against the gag bill

luglio 11, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As operators in the security and surveillance field, we have more than once expressed our point of view regarding the bill that the Berlusconi government is trying to pass, and that would pose severe limitations not only to the possibility of using wiretapping during the course of a police investigation, but also to the freedom of press, preventing news about the crime from being published before the trial is actually over.

Therefore, not only it would no longer be possible (or it would be much more difficult and cumbersome) to frame criminals that use the phone to close deals, exchange information and carry out negotiations for their dirty jobs, but should a reporter publish news about such crimes, he might be subject to a hefty fine and might even risk to be arrested and incarcerated.

If this law was in effect today, just to make an example, the recent scandals which involve politicians from the government and the centre-right supporting coalition would have not been possible to expose, and the public opinion would not have been able to objectively judge their politicians, something which is already pretty hard in a country where TV information is filtered and manipulated to the point that Italy (only country in Western Europe) has been listed as “partly free” under the point of view of freedom of expression.

To protest against all this, yesterday, July 9, Italy has seen a day of general strike by newspapers and online information and news sites: most of the newspapers (including even some leaning towards the centre-right) were not published, and the major information websites (as well as the newspapers’ sites) were not updated all day.

By doing this, the Italian press wants to give a sample of how the information would look like if this bill were to be really approved: a completely gagged press, forced to publish completely unimportant news to fill up pages that would no longer function as a source of information, but would be turned into a mere entertainment, useful only for quick and superficial reading.

Facing the enemy of a law that limits freedom of expression, this choice might appear as a contradiction, and one might think that it would actually do a favor to those who are trying to gag the Italian press; on the contrary, this day of silence on press and news portals is a blank space to do some thinking, a way to realize that every day might be a day like this, in a country where law is able to decide what news would make the headlines and what has to be deliberately ignored.

What should raise more than one eyebrow is the fact that, while on one hand this government flexes its muscles against desperate refugees fleeing their countries to escape hunger or war and look for a better opportunity in the West, chasing them off the Mediterranean coast as if they were fastidious insects, on the other hand this determination vanishes completely when it comes to fighting financial and organized crime, that might be effectively fought by using listening bugs.

If in the USA, the increase in usage of bugs and hidden microphones to wiretap phone calls and conversations has given positive results in the struggle against white collar crime, while Italy is doing its utmost to limit them, one might start to wonder that there is some hidden interest behind all this. Or not?

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luglio: 2010
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