Freedom of press is challenged in Italy

Italian blogger Carlo Ruta has been sentenced for producing an illegal editorial product on appeal by an Italian court. For the first time, remote fears have become a reality: you can be sentenced for stating your opinions online. Here we have the results of the laws passed slowly over 15 years that has eroded freedom of speech in Italy.

According to a law passed in 2007, every blog or website in Italy is to be considered a publication and undergo the same obligations of printed newspapers and magazines. This law allowed for Ruta’s blog ‘Accade in Sicilia’ to fall under an anti-fascist law passed in 1948 that forbids publications that are not registered by the national Communications Authority.

Ruta’s blog is offline since 2004 but accessible on Webarchive.org: it contains information and results of his research about recent history of Sicily, including the homicide of journalist Giovanni Spampinato.

Italian newspaper La Stampa has a brief interview with Ruta where he says he believe he may have touched some nerves with his blog. It’s a sad day for me.

Update: I have discovered that Accade in Sicilia is not the only case. ChiusiNews was also closed, not by a court order but by the intimidation of the powerful Journalist’s Guild. Thanks to Arturo di Corinto for the headsup.

Whitehouse.gov contributes to Drupal.org

I’m amazed by the cultural vitality of the US free software scene. I have realized¬† listening the keynotes of Tim O’Reilly yesterday and today’s about eGov at DrupalCon 2010 in San Francisco that Italian scene lacks the same vitality (while still placing worldwide leaders on top of big project). I have the impression that 20 years of lack of innovation are starting to take a hit over the most innovative crowd of the country. Free and Open Source is all about innovation, imagining the future that is not there yet: if the future is the same for 20 years there is little to imagine further.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean the WhiteHouse.gov released Open Source Code and I was there to hear the announcement. Well done for Drupal, congratulations to the free software community as a whole.

My income online: it’s bad management

I’ve read many comments about the publication of income tax reports by Italian government, the last act of past government. I don’t know if giving my income statement to my neighbors (and to the rest of the world) is good or bad. What really made me angry was the justification by former minister, Visco. He said “it’s a matter of transparency”. Right, this country needs transparency but why is it always the citizens that have to be transparent while the government can be opaque? Where are the 10 millions? How come nobody can know why italia.it costed so much? Or, saying it with the WSJ: why does the state need to consume 48% of the country’s GDP?

Italians are not used to be transparent, the national culture is of suspect and jealousy. If you want to change that you need to educate and, most importantly, give examples. You can’t imagine that simply passing a law and pushing it down the citizens’ throat will do anything but make everybody angry. That’s bad management, awful, more than an issue of privacy. Cultural changes need strong leadership, a clear path to follow and examples. Do you still wonder why past government lasted only 2 years and its parties were wiped out of the Parliament at last elections?