Wikipedia Stands Up for Freedom of Speech in Italy
A current law proposal in the Italian Parliament is suggesting that all websites be required to publish, without any comment, any changes to content that an applicant considers detrimental to his or her image. Paragraph 29 of the "DDL Intercettazioni" or "Wiretapping Act" further goes on the state that the requests be completed within 48 hours of submission. The claims also do not need to be judged by a third party, hence disregarding the truthfulness of the information.
Seeing that Wikipedia employs a bottom-up model whereby the whole internet community is responsible for the maintenance and accuracy of facts posted, the new law goes against its very core principles. If the Wiretapping Act passes, a single person will be able to edit content if they find it harms their image.
The Italian version of the free encyclopedia is considered to be the fourth largest Wikipedia with 800,000 articles and over 600,000 registered users. And on Tuesday every single page on the Italian Wikipedia site was replaced by a statement from the website itself stating how the new law might result in the shutdown of operations. While the Wikipedia is back to normal function now, a banner still appears on the front page opposing the move by the government. The English version of the statement can also be found online.
It is quite possible the proposed act can be easily abused in its current state. A flood of applications for changes might overwhelm the website and the fact that they have to be honored might reduce the veracity of Wikipedia articles. As it is, Wikipedia impresses greatly with the speed of updates and the thorough manner in which they correct any defacement of pages which makes the implementation of such laws somewhat redundant.
On the wider scale, Wikipedia's stance on the matter is protecting other blogs and independent websites who have found the internet to be a platform to make their voice heard. By trying to protect the individual, the Italian government is impinging on the freedom of speech of many which sounds counter-productive if you ask us.