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IP Address
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NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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Privacy Laws in Italy

IVPN customers in Italy trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in Italy.

Data Retention by ISPs

Italy has passed and transposed the EU’s 2006 Data Retention Directive into law. This means all Italian ISPs must record and archive data such as a customer’s IP address, billing information, the websites they visit and to whom they send emails[1]. The applicable law is the Italian Data Protection Code of 2003, which has had an impressive average of 1.4 amendments per year since being enacted, invariably prompted by various changes to EU Directives on the subject of data retention and online surveillance (e.g., Directives 2002/58/CE and 2006/24/CE). The fervour with which the law has been persistently updated by Italy speaks to the country’s determination to ensure that online surveillance and data retention remains contemporaneous at all times.

It should be noted that this 2003 decree that enacted mandatory data retention by telephone companies and ISPs was issued without any prior parliamentary debate. All data relating to electronic communications in Italy must now be stored for a period of 5 years. The online data retention period had previously been 30 months. All this data must be separately accessible, although the usage thereof is limited to particularly “serious crimes,” which include kidnapping, organised crime and terrorism, as well as certain crimes against IT or online systems[2].

In March 2013 the Italian Data Protection Authority (known as ‘Garante’) issued a press release on the outcome of a series of investigations it had undertaken on 11 telecom and internet service providers (“ISPs”) in Italy. The operation, predictably named “Data Retention,” was aimed at verifying whether or not such providers were compliant with the country’s data protection legislation and, in particular, with Garante’s specific measures issued to all ISPs in 2008. It was found that a whopping 9 of the 11 investigated companies had not been compliant with the legislation, indicative no doubt of the unwillingness to adhere to data retention laws by Italian ISPs. All 9 ISPs were duly fined[3].

It is notable that an April 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the European Data Retention Directive to be a gross violation of privacy rights under European law and, therefore, was invalid[4]. The Court made particular reference to the fundamental principle of privacy in its decision[5]. This is an important decision for Italy, given that so much of its data retention law in recent years has been based on the EU Directive.

Digital Copyright Laws

As per Article 1 of Italian copyright law (referred to as the “ICL”), all works having a creative character and belonging to literature, music, figurative arts, architecture, theatre or cinematography, whatever their mode or form of expression, are eligible for copyright protection under Italian law. Italian courts have historically ruled in favour of defending user privacy when it comes to cases of copyright infringement. A requirement for copyright protection under Italian law is that the work must be both creative and of an individual nature[6]. A new Italian piracy law was enacted in 2014 a website or ISP is making a work available without a licence, a rights-holder (or their representative) can file a takedown request. The publisher or provider has three days in which to appeal. If the authorities don't hear from the provider, they can disable the website, if it is judged to be committing “a massive infringement”[7]. It's literally 12 days from complaint to removal – not bad for a country as notoriously bureaucratic as Italy!

Freedom of Speech and Censorship

Freedom of speech and freedom from censorship are both fundamental human rights protected by the Italian Constitution. Unfortunately, in recent times Italy has developed an online censorship culture. This came to the fore at the end of 2016 when the head of the Italian competition commission demanded that the European Union ‘crackdown’ on what is called ‘fake news’[8]. A proposed cyberbullying law is considered an even more draconian means of curtailing online free speech in Italy[9].

Future Trends

There is nothing to suggest that Italy will become any less aggressive in its efforts to curtail online freedom and privacy in the coming years. Like so many other EU countries, the logical conclusion is that the assault against online privacy will continue by Italy.

Our Take

Italy is today one of the worst culprits in curtailing online privacy and freedom of speech. Italian online users should be very, very concerned about this trend.

Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws page.

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