silvio berlusconi New Law May See Italians Require Government Permission To Upload VideoThe Italian government is considering new law that will see its population require a licence to upload video to the Internet. This law could come into place as soon as the end of January.

To obtain the licence, individuals would need to seek permission from Italy’s Communications Ministry, not unlike television and radio broadcasters.

On Thursday opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules. An organization called Articolo 21, dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech, said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.

The group launched an appeal Friday entitled “Hands Off the Net,” saying the restrictive measures would mark “the end of freedom of expression on the Web.”

If this were to go ahead, Italy would become the only Western country in which it is necessary to have prior government permission to upload video content.

Other critics described the decree as an expression of the conflict of interests of Silvio Berlusconi, who exercises political control over the state broadcaster RAI in his role as prime minister and is also the owner of Italy’s largest private broadcaster, Mediaset.

Alessandro Gilioli, who writes a blog on the Web site of the weekly magazine L’Espresso, said the decree was intended to squelch future competition for Mediaset, which was planning to move into IPTV and therefore had an interest in reducing the number of independent videos circulating on the Web.

“It’s the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That’s why anyone doing Web TV — even from their attic at home — must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations,” Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.

Via The Standard