Italian Parliment to ban Facebook over Mafia Support

Most famous Networking website Facebook is set to be banned in Italy by lawmakers after they were accused of glamorizing Mafia gangsters. The proposal by Gianpiero D’Alia of the Christian Democrats Udc Party, has already been approved by the Senate and now it’s expected to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies before it becomes law.

Under the proposal, any websites that have postings praising mafia bosses, rapists or other criminals have to delete them or they will be made unavailable within 24hours to web users by local authorities.

“In December a group of fans of mafia godfather Bernardo Provenzano on Facebook were demanding he be made a saint,” Gianpiero D’Alia said today. “Provenzano was linked directly and indirectly to hundreds of murders and whoever supports him supports the mafia and commits a crime in Italy.”

The bill, which gives the interior ministry the power to order Internet providers to block criminal content within 24 hours or face fines of between EUR50,000 (US$64,000) and EUR250,000 (US$321,000), was given initial assent in the Senate last week.

A Google spokesman Friday warned that a proposed new law that would force Italian Internet providers to block access to Web sites that incite or justify criminal behavior could threaten freedom of expression and prove unworkable in practice.

“The order is not directed at the content creator or the person running the platform but at the company that provides Internet connectivity,” Marco Pancini, the head of institutional relations for Google Italy, said in a telephone interview. “Those companies are not in a position to remove a single item, so they would have to black out the entire platform.”

Italy has legislation to block websites considered illegal, but D’Alia said the bill would cut out lengthy court cases. “The government will be able to act fast once a magistrate has informed it that a crime is being committed,” he said. “Websites can then challenge the blocking of content in the courts.”

“This is not aimed specifically at Facebook, yet they did refuse to drop pages honouring mafiosi but at the same time were quick to censor photos of breastfeeding women,” said D’Alia, who added the measure would order the blocking of offending pages, not entire websites.

The measure, originally aimed at Facebook, could also have dire consequences for YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Google. “The law concerns all the Internet hosting platforms that host user-generated content. Our worry is about its possible effect on the entire Internet ecosystem,” Pancini said.