Italians Move Against Online Adult

Stephen Yagielowicz
MILAN — The Italian government has joined the ranks of those who are not pleased about the way in which users may freely upload video content to the Internet, and it intends to do something about it.

According to the Associated Press, as early as February 4 of this year, companies such as Google-owned YouTube would be required to screen user-uploaded videos for content that is deemed pornographic, violent or otherwise offensive.

The measure reportedly will also compel ISPs to enforce the same standards across their networks in order to police individual websites which may need to acquire a special use permit to operate in Italy — mirroring the recent "website licensing" maneuvers by the Chinese government. Failure to comply could result in fines to ISPs equaling from $210 to more than $210,000.

"We are concerned over the fact that [companies], like YouTube, that simply make content available to the general public, are being bundled together with traditional television networks that actually manage content," Google Italia's European senior policy counsel Marco Pancini reportedly told the newspaper La Stampa. "It amounts to destroying the entire Internet system."

The Italian order restricts all online material that is harmful to minors, and specifies pornography among the banned content types.

While it is unclear how the new laws will apply to websites without a physical presence in Italy, support for global regulation seems to be increasing, even (surprisingly) in the name of content diversity and a fair playing field.

"I cannot consider YouTube as a benefactor of mankind. I must consider YouTube as a company," economist Carlo Carnevale Maffe told the AP. "Google and the Internet live without regulation worldwide. This is impossible and we need to clear what are the limits of this new platform. We need to upgrade the legal platform to make sure the Internet is not blocked from innovation, but to give fair competition to the Internet."