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
they send emails. 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
the subject of data retention and online surveillance (e.g., Directives 2002/58/CE and
2006/24/CE). The fervour
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
issued without any prior parliamentary debate. All data relating to electronic communications in
Italy must now
stored for a period of 5 years. The online data retention period had previously been 30 months.
All this data
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
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
with the country’s data protection legislation and, in particular, with Garante’s specific
measures issued to
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
were duly fined.
It is notable that an April 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the
Retention Directive to be a gross violation of privacy rights under European law and, therefore,
Court made particular reference to the fundamental principle of privacy in its decision.
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
Digital Copyright Laws
As per Article 1 of Italian copyright law (referred to as the “ICL”), all works having a creative
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
in favour of defending user privacy when it comes to cases of copyright infringement. A
protection under Italian law is that the work must be both creative and of an individual
A new Italian
piracy law was enacted in 2014 a website or ISP is making a work available without a licence, a
their representative) can file a takedown request. The publisher or provider has three days in
which to appeal.
the authorities don't hear from the provider, they can disable the website, if it is judged to
be committing “a
massive infringement”. 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
Constitution. Unfortunately, in recent times Italy has developed an online censorship culture.
This came to the
at the end of 2016 when the head of the Italian competition commission demanded that the
on what is called ‘fake news’. A proposed cyberbullying
law is considered
an even more draconian means of
online free speech in Italy.
There is nothing to suggest that Italy will become any less aggressive in its efforts to curtail
and privacy in the coming years. Like so many other EU countries, the logical conclusion is that
online privacy will continue by Italy.
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