“Every country has the government it deserves”
(Joseph Marie de Maistre)
Update (11/18/2008): The bill has been withdrawn, ostensibly following widespread complaints among bloggers and the general public. In fairness, however, while I remain wary of any governmental attempt at “regulating” blogs, on examining the bill more closely and on reading some of the most authoritative legal opinions, it seems to me that the bill has been seriously misrepresented and its likely consequences vastly overstated, in both the Italian and international press. As it turns out, it would not have affected the overwhelming majority of blogs.
I felt that I owed at least a clarification.
As an amusing follow-up to my latest post on the relationship between blogs and “official” scientific journals, I have found out that in my country of birth some legislators actually think that regulating blogs is not only possible, but actually opportune (the story, in Italian, here). Indeed, parliament is about to discuss a bill that would require all bloggers to register with the Ministry of Communication (no, not with the Ministry of Blogging, silly…), and be thereafter subjected to the same regulations and restrictions as newspapers, television and other ‘regular’ news media. Failure to do so would result in prosecution of the blogger (yes, all blogs would be affected; even cooking, personal or porn blogs will be required to report news — any news I suppose — accurately and unbiasedly).
It is worth noting that this bill was first introduced in 2007, when the so-called ‘center-left’ coalition headed by Romano Prodi was still in power. It did not go anywhere back then, but apparently this is one of those issues on which the current right-wing majority may concur with the ‘center-left’.
The promoter of this bill is a representative elected in the ranks of the so-called Democratic Party (that’s right, only twenty years ago they called themselves ‘communists’…).
Now, aside from the underlying motivations for this initiative, which I frankly would rather not know, the question immediately arises : how is any government even going to attempt to regulate something like a blog, which (among other things) can be hosted on a foreign server ? Only someone who is utterly clueless on how the internet works, or even what it is, could come up with such an idea.
As usual, for a hilarious and quite accurate commentary on the bill, and more generally on the sorry state of Italian politics, nobody can top British commentators — just pick any one of them.