File Name: internet doms in palestine mapping of digital rights violations and threats .zip
In December , Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest outside a government office in the little-known town of Sidi Bouzid. In a matter of days, his act of defiance set off a revolutionary movement that rippled across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling some long-standing authoritarian regimes. But they also sparked horrific and lasting violence, mass displacement, and worsening repression in parts of the region.
- Internet censorship
- Children’s Rights and Digital Technologies
- Internet censorship and surveillance by country
Internet censorship is the control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet enacted by regulators, or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequences. The extent of Internet censorship varies on a country-to-country basis. While some democratic countries have moderate Internet censorship, other countries go as far as to limit the access of information such as news and suppress discussion among citizens. An example is the increased censorship due to the events of the Arab Spring.
Concerns about the proliferation of misinformation online intensified in the run-up to national elections in March In January , the government announced the launch of an online portal to report "fake news" to the postal police see Media, Diversity, and Content Manipulation.
In November , parliament swiftly approved a provision that would require telecommunications operators to retain telephone and internet data for up to six years see Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity.
While Italy's internet environment remained free during the past year, misinformation and altered images thrived on social media ahead of the elections. Italy's internet penetration lags behind that of many other European countries, at around 65 percent of the population. Italy was the first European country to present a crowdsourced "Declaration of Internet Rights" in July The nonbinding document includes provisions that promote net neutrality and establishes internet access as a fundamental right.
While generally seen as a positive development, the text has also drawn some criticism for inadequately addressing issues such as anonymity, encryption, and data retention. Italian authorities do not generally engage in political censorship of online speech, and, as in previous years, no bloggers or social media users were imprisoned during the coverage period.
However, defamation remains a criminal offense in Italy, and civil libel suits continue to threaten online writers. The debate about online disinformation and fake news was particularly lively in Italy. Politicians across the political spectrum have publicly discussed possible solutions to regulate the spread of disinformation on the internet.
The debate intensified in the months leading up to the national elections held on March 4, In January , former interior minister Marco Minniti announced a new initiative of the National Police that gives citizens the opportunity to report fake news through the postal police's website.
The regulation of hacking powers for law enforcement investigations has been a controversial topic. In June , parliament approved a law mandating the government to regulate the use of malware for hacking purposes. Concerns have also surrounded Italian companies' involvement in the cyberweapons trade, and the lack of transparency in the granting of export licenses.
In November , parliament swiftly approved a regulation on data retention, which requires telecommunications operators to store telephone and internet data for up to six years. The provision had been added into a transposition law following a European Council directive on the "safety of lifts" in July There was virtually no public or parliamentary debate on the regulation, despite civil society protests and criticism from the Italian Data Protection Authority and the European Data Protection Supervisor.
Since the s, the Italian government has supported the internet as a catalyst for economic growth, increased tourism, and greater government efficiency. This attitude continued to prevail in , though aspirations for a fully connected Italy remained unfulfilled.
While Italy's internet penetration rate is higher than the global average, it remained lower than the overall rate in Western Europe at In general, mobile phone use is much more widespread than internet access.
Italy has one of lowest high speed broadband coverage rates in the European Union EU. Significant geographical differences in internet penetration persist across the country, with southern regions such as Calabria lagging behind. The internet is particularly popular among young people, with over 92 percent of people between 15 and 24 surfing the web.
The number of households accessing the internet via broadband improved from 67 percent to 70 percent in The ambitious infrastructural plan, "Growth 2. The Digital Agenda initiative based on the EU Agenda also intends to expand broadband access and e-government functions. As part of its plan to expand ultrafast broadband, the government has posted requests for tenders to roll out networks in underserved areas. Fifth generation mobile network trials also launched in five cities in March In , a "digital transformation team" led by Amazon vice president Diego Piacentini and comprised of leading figures in a number of internet-related sectors, was formed to lead the digital transformation process of Italian public administration, among other goals.
The government does not impose restrictions on ICT connectivity and access to social media and communication platforms. Telecom Italia, the former state telecom monopoly that owns the physical network, has continued the process of "externalizing" the infrastructure since May , as required by EU legislation to provide fair access to competitors.
Access to the internet for private users is offered by 14 different internet service providers ISPs. Telecom Italia has the largest share of the market, followed by Vodafone, Fastweb, and Tiscali.
With 31 million users, the company is now the largest mobile operator in the country. Earlier in , the French media giant Vivendi further raised its stake in Telecom Italia to just under 25 percent, which is the threshold for making a mandatory bid for Telecom Italia. In April , however, the Authority for Communications Guarantees AGCOM , the Italian communications regulator, ruled that Vivendi had violated Italy's media antitrust law and gave the company a year to reduce its stake in either Telecom Italia or the private broadcaster Mediaset.
According to the authority, Telecom Italia has omitted relevant information about its plans and their limitations. In February , the police and authorities from the Italian Antitrust Agency searched the offices of Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Fastweb, Wind Tre, and industry lobbying firm Asstel, as part of a probe over the pricing of mobile and fixed-line services. In late , parliament passed a law requiring monthly billing for all telephone operators.
The main regulatory body for telecommunications is AGCOM, an independent agency that is accountable to parliament. Its responsibilities include providing access to networks, protecting intellectual property rights, regulating advertisements, and overseeing public broadcasting.
In December , the Constitutional Court, Italy's highest court, dismissed an appeal that challenged the constitutionality of AGCOM's online copyright enforcement regulation issued in , which empowers the regulatory authority to order internet or hosting providers to block websites or remove allegedly infringing content.
In late , in the wake of the fake news debate, Giovanni Pitruzzella, head of AGCOM, argued that regulation of misinformation on the internet was best done by the state, rather than by social media companies such as Facebook.
He also suggested the creation of an EU independent body to label fake news and remove it from circulation or impose fines when necessary. Established in , the DPA is tasked with supervising compliance with data protection laws by both governmental and nongovernmental entities.
It also has the authority to ban or block "processing operations that are liable to cause serious harm to individuals. The Italian authorities do not engage in significant blocking or filtering of internet content, although measures to block illegal materials without a court order have worried digital rights activists. Italian politicians have made increasing demands to tackle the proliferation of hate speech and fake news online, a concern that intensified in the run-up to national elections in March Italy does not block or filter content of a political, social, or religious nature, while Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and international blog-hosting sites are all freely available.
An antiterrorism decree passed by parliament in allows the public prosecutor to order the blocking or removal of websites affiliated with terrorist groups.
Similar to the system used to block child pornography sites, the Interior Ministry compiles a blacklist of terrorist websites for ISPs to block. A controversial resolution on online copyright enforcement enacted in March enables AGCOM to issue administrative blocking orders to ISPs for specific websites that infringe on copyright, even those that only contain links for downloading copyright-protected content. The regulation also gives AGCOM the power to remove content upon review by an internal panel, but without prior judicial approval if a copyright violation is detected.
Authorities sometimes request the removal of specific content. In January , former interior minister Marco Minniti announced the National Police's new initiative to fight the spread of fake news. According to the plan, the police website and their social media accounts would be set to publish retractions based on their analysis of reported content. David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, expressed his concerns about the protocol, citing its vague language on the definition of fake news.
In a formal communication, he urged the government to reconsider the initiative. In May , parliament approved a new cyberbullying law after several high-profile cases of cyberbullying came to light. On December 3, , a civil court in Rome upheld the CJEU's reasoning on the right to be forgotten but rejected the plaintiff's request, in a case that sought to balance such a right with the right to information in the public interest.
Blogging is very popular in Italy, though television remains a leading medium for obtaining news. Most policymakers, popular journalists, and figures in the entertainment industry have their own blogs, as do many ordinary citizens. Social-networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, have emerged as crucial tools for organizing protests and other mass gatherings such as concerts, parties, or political rallies.
The government does not proactively manipulate news websites. However, in the run-up to March elections, Italian politicians renewed demands to address the proliferation of disinformation, as fabricated opinion polls, manipulated pictures, and false stories circulated online. In November , Buzzfeed investigated a large network of media sites and Facebook pages owned by an Italian entrepreneur, dedicated to spreading misinformation and hyper-partisan content online.
In early , a widely criticized bill to tackle the spread of fake news and hate speech was presented for parliamentary discussion by parliamentarian Adele Gambaro. If fake news is deemed to damage the public interest or seeks to undermine the democratic process, publishers would face heftier fines and prison sentences. Content hosts may exercise some self-censorship regarding content that could prove controversial or create friction with powerful entities or individuals.
Online writers also exercise caution to avoid libel suits by public officials, whose litigation — even when unsuccessful — often takes a significant financial toll on defendants.
Individuals writing about the activities of organized crime in some parts of the country may be especially at risk of reprisals. In March , the magazine Famiglia Cristiana deleted an article about the seizure of a Spanish ship carrying refugees in Sicily by the Italian Navy, possibly in violation of international law on asylum. The mention of the Italian Navy was dropped from the title, and mentions of its involvement in the case were modified.
Some restrictions on internet content that are uncommon in other Western European countries remain in place in Italy. Drawing on a law against the "clandestine press," a regulation issued in holds that anyone providing a news service, including on the internet, must be a "chartered" journalist within the Communication Workers' Registry ROC and hold membership in the Italian National Press Federation.
Nonetheless, many people who create websites on a range of issues including scholarly research still collaborate with registered journalists to protect themselves from potential legal action. Italian civil society organizations have actively campaigned on transparency and social issues, with a particular focus on open data and freedom of information initiatives, with some results.
For instance, after two years of a civil society campaign called FOIA4Italy, a new access to information law was approved by the Council of Ministers in May and came into force on December 23, In , as the MeToo movement gained momentum, Italy had, to a smaller extent, its own emerging movement seeking to tackle pervasive sexism in Italy.
The Italian movement used the hashtag quellavoltache that time that. While the movement stirred conversation online and in public forums, [ 53 ] it did not lead to a sustained debate in parliament or the country's other institutions. Violations against users' rights are uncommon in Italy, although cases of legal intimidation and threats against online writers are occasionally reported.
Criminal defamation laws remain a grave threat to online journalists and social media users, particularly in the ambiguous form they have been applied to the online sphere.
Privacy concerns have also surrounded legislative moves to regulate hacking for the purpose of criminal investigations, and a recent regulation extending the period in which ISPs must keep users' traffic records. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and other relevant international treaties, freedoms of speech and the press, as well as the confidentiality of correspondence, are constitutionally guaranteed in Italy.
While generally seen as a positive development, the text has also raised some criticism for falling short on certain issues like such as anonymity, encryption, and data retention. Several laws present a threat to internet freedom in the country, however.
Italy passed an antiterrorism law in April that broadened language in the criminal code on terrorist recruitment, as well as the endorsement or incitement of terrorism, to include activities on online channels.
In cases of libel through the press, television, or other public means, there is no prescribed maximum fine. In March , the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed renewed concerns that "forms of expression including defamation, libel and blasphemy remain criminalized, including with punishment of imprisonment, and that article 13 of the Press Law and that Article of the Criminal Code imposes harsher punishment for defaming public officials, including the head of state.
Defamation is a criminal offense in Italy according to the criminal code. Civil libel suits against journalists, including those operating online, are a common occurrence. The financial burden of lengthy legal proceedings may have chilling effects on journalists and their editors. Ossigeno per l'Informazione, an organization that tracks threats to journalists in Italy, has reported "frivolous defamation suits" against media since , which includes cases against online media.
Despite the Snowden revelations and reports of eavesdropping by the British and American governments' intelligence organizations on Italian phone calls and internet traffic, [ 60 ] Italy has not engaged in a thorough public debate on surveillance.
Children’s Rights and Digital Technologies
This edition of the Index , which evaluates the situation for journalists each year in countries and territories, suggests that the next ten years will be pivotal for press freedom because of converging crises affecting the future of journalism: a geopolitical crisis due to the aggressiveness of authoritarian regimes ; a technological crisis due to a lack of democratic guarantees ; a democratic crisis due to polarisation and repressive policies ; a crisis of trust due to suspicion and even hatred of the media ; and an economic crisis impoverishing quality journalism. What will freedom of information, pluralism and reliability look like in ? The answer to that question is being determined today. Both China th and Iran down 3 at rd censored their major coronavirus outbreaks extensively. In Iraq down 6 at nd , the authorities stripped Reuters of its licence for three months after it published a story questioning official coronavirus figures.
Internet censorship and surveillance by country
This list of Internet censorship and surveillance by country provides information on the types and levels of Internet censorship and surveillance that is occurring in countries around the world. The ratings produced by several of these organizations are summarized below as well as in the Censorship by country article. The Freedom on the Net reports provide analytical reports and numerical ratings regarding the state of Internet freedom for countries worldwide. The surveys ask a set of questions designed to measure each country's level of Internet and digital media freedom, as well as the access and openness of other digital means of transmitting information, particularly mobile phones and text messaging services. The results from the three areas are combined into a total score for a country from 0 for best to for worst and countries are rated as "Free" 0 to 30 , "Partly Free" 31 to 60 , or "Not Free" 61 to based on the totals.
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