Italy's Far-Right Pushes Vote on Default Online Block for Adult Content

Italy's Far-Right Pushes Vote on Default Online Block for Adult Content

ROME — Next Monday, Italy’s Camera, their equivalent to the House of Representatives, is due to vote on a lengthy piece of legislation concerning wiretapping and several other issues. Simone Pillon, a representative from the far-right Lega (formerly Lega Nord, or “Northern League”) party, has inserted an amendment requiring all adult sites be automatically blocked by device manufacturers and at the ISP level, with subscribers having to call in individually and request the block to be lifted.

Pillon’s amendment passed the legislative committee last week and is heading to the Camera.

Pillon is known in Italian politics as an “ultra-Catholic,” and has tried similar tactics in the past against access to abortion and LGBT rights.

According to La Repubblica newspaper, Pillon’s amendment to the so-called “Wiretapping Bill” calls itself “Systems for the Protection of Minors From the Risks of Cyberspace” and demands “parental control systems” to be installed as a default, offered free of charge, and only to be deactivated at the request of the consumer.

The legislation makes the ISP liable for any connection that would allow free access to adult content.

The Lega is a minority party, but the Camera’s procedures and timelines ensured that those who oppose the proposal — considering it censorship — could not revise the amendment.

Pillon called the default parental block “the thing that is closest to my heart: the introduction of the obligation for suppliers of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, TVs and other devices to pre-install a filter free of charge to block violent, pornographic or inappropriate content for minors.”

"I hope that in this way the many children who, like mine, will now have daily access to the internet will be made safe, given the need for distance learning," Pillon told La Repubblica. "A small gift from the great family of the Lega to all the mothers and dads who want to protect their little ones from the dangers of the web.”

Italian lawyer and internet specialist Fulvio Sarzana told La Repubblica that the amendment will increase “the risk of merely favoring internet censorship” and mentioned U.S. and U.K. precedents where similar moves have been successfully challenged in the courts and public debates.

Stefano Quintarelli, an Italian expert who advises the E.U. on artificial intelligence, commented that Pillon’s proposed rule “is inapplicable.”

“Who determines what inappropriate content is? And how to filter encrypted content, taking into account that everything is encrypted on the web now?” Quintarelli asked.

Italy’s top female porn star Valentina Nappi expressed her concern on Twitter and added that Pillon's move might prompt her "to enter politics” to fight the Lega’s censorship proposals.

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