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Next G8 President Wants To "Regulate the Internet" 279

Posted by kdawson
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
antispam_ben writes "The President of Italy, which will have the Presidency of the G8 starting January 1, says he wants to use the future position of Italy to 'Regulate the Internet.' Italy's President Berlusconi appears to be a cantankerous character, prompting riots when Italy last had the G8 presidency in 2001. This will no doubt be a serious effort, but knowing the fundamental design of the Internet involves routing around damage, the efforts could be more amusing than threatening." Update — 12/5 at 00:04 by SS: Reader fondacio noted that Silvio Berlusconi is Italy's Prime Minister, not its President. He is Italy's G8 representative, and Italy will hold the presidency in 2009.
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Next G8 President Wants To "Regulate the Internet"

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Typical from the people in power nowadays

  • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:40PM (#25996419) Homepage
    Never happen. The mafia will just disappear him. ;)
  • No authority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Forthan Red (820542) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:41PM (#25996429)
    Since the "President of the G8" doesn't have the authority to do SQUAT, who cares?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:06PM (#25996765)

      Since the "President of the G8" doesn't have the authority to do SQUAT, who cares?

      Since the president is the guy who decides on the G8 meetings toilet breaks, I think you will live to regret those words! With an unlimited supply of water and "one john to rule them all", Berlusconi will show the leaders of the world what happends when you cross him.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Perhaps he doesn't have direct control, but slow steering of the ship via blackmail ( WTO ) has to start somewhere.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      And regulate the internet in which manner?

      If we can get rid of all that spam that clutters and pains all of us then we can at least win something.

    • Re:No authority (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eggnoglatte (1047660) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:39AM (#26000239)

      Well, he does set the agenda for the meeting, so if he is serious, he could dedicate a fairly large chunk of the meeting time to this topic.

      Now, theoretically the rest of them could just tell him off on this topic. But lets face it: they all need to justify being at a meeting that took a huge effort to organize with thousands of cops protecting them, tens of thousands of people demonstrating etc. In other words, they need a result. ANY result. Internet regulation is an easy topic in that respect, since the wish for some amount of control over the internet is widespread among politicians of many countries. So the meeting dynamics could very easily be stacked against common sense and individual right.

      But what else is new?

  • by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:42PM (#25996443) Homepage
    The Internet does not need to be regulated. Instead what needs to happen is for all of the major countries of the world (including Russia and China) to start cooperating and prosecuting computer fraud where people misrepresent themselves to steal information and use it for personal gain. These laws already exist in most countries and the goal should be to extend them into the far corners of the globe along with a willing police force or the ability for Interpol to operate where needed.
    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:56PM (#25996633)
      Exactly. This is a classic instance of creating more ridiculous laws, rules and regulations rather than simply enforcing what's already in place. I've seen the same approach used to try to "clean up" the Internet to get rid of child porn. Special filters and laws don't need to be created to ban child pornography from the Internet. There are already laws against it... just enforce them and leave the rest of us alone. To catch a predator is a great example - that show uses existing laws to nail those guys.
    • by Narpak (961733)

      Instead what needs to happen is for all of the major countries of the world (including Russia and China) to start cooperating and prosecuting computer fraud where people misrepresent themselves to steal information and use it for personal gain.

      Part of that particular problem is that some of those that misrepresent themselves to steal information works for various governments targeting other governments. So from side of the issue they might want to deal with the problem, but from another they want to use the situation to their advantage.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, thats EXACTLY what the internet needs. A world wide police force with global access and the right to opperate with impunity in any country.

      RIIIIGHT.

      The RIAA tried that and this community screamed blue bloody murder. Now because the flag is "fraud" we're going to back it? I don't think so.

      Is internet fraud the /. version of think of the children?

  • Stop him! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mathiasdm (803983) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:42PM (#25996445) Homepage
    What he is doing is useless, as Tor (for anonymous browsing), I2P (for anonymous fast downloading) and Freenet (for anonymous data storage) make such filters obsolete even before they are implemented.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Until they pass laws that makes such measures illegal. They want to know what every citizen is doing at all times, makes it easier to stop people who oppose the government.

      The economy is screwed, the governments pissed it all away on wars nobody can win in an attempt to get even richer but know that but the only way they'll keep people in line is to make them too afraid to do anything.

    • by nicklott (533496)
      Or they would do if they were actually usable... Perhaps they work when you're connected to Internet2 or GEANT but out here in the real world of 4k/256 ADSL they suck ass.
  • by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:42PM (#25996451)

    fuck.it

  • This could be viewed as an opportunity for the countries to work together but usually these things become opportunities to grab power as the AC above said... so rather than assist mankind it stalls out true progress.

    There is a lot wrong with how the Internet is being used for scams, viruses, rootkits, etc. With a few countries working together then maybe more would be interested in joining in the cooperation.

  • Not the president (Score:5, Informative)

    by fondacio (835785) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:45PM (#25996495)
    Berlusconi is not the president of Italy. He's the prime minister. The president is Giorgio Napolitano [wikipedia.org].
    • Berlusconi is not the president of Italy. He's the prime minister. The president is Giorgio Napolitano [wikipedia.org].

      Reminds me of a story CNN ran some years ago about the Spanish 'Presidential election.' I'll bet King Juan Carlos was a bit horrified when he heard about that!

    • Of all things, I actually RTFA and it's The Register's fault:

      Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi said today that he would use his country's imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to "regulate the internet".

      Sadly, all too many people in the U.S. are lucky if they can find Italy on a map let alone know who is currently Prime Minister, etc.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:47PM (#25996527)

    The efficiency of a multinational organization and
    the effectiveness of the Italian president will finally
    make my internet experience safe and unoffensive.
    This truly is a golden age.

  • by jaxtherat (1165473) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:49PM (#25996533) Homepage

    What the fuck does "regulate the inernet" actually mean? It could mean anything!

    1. announce plans to regulate internet
    2. ???
    3. profit

    • by syousef (465911)

      What the fuck does "regulate the inernet" actually mean? It could mean anything!

      It means: All your base (and pr0nz) are belong to us!

  • by earlymon (1116185) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:49PM (#25996545) Homepage Journal

    Whack him as crazy all you want, but the truth is that he's crazy and despotic. From TFA:

    Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.

    The left-wing newspaper L'Unita wrote: "You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia."

    And -

    Any G8 move next year to "regulate the internet" led by Berlusconi is likely to attract criticism. He has often been accused of using his power to try to silence dissent. He lost a long-running libel battle against The Economist earlier this year after it said he was not "fit to run Italy" and was this week suing American critic Andrew Stille for defamation.

    More on this guy - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/world/europe/02italy.html?_r=1&ref=europe [nytimes.com]

    • by Vihai (668734) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:05PM (#25996759) Homepage

      "You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia.

      And Italy. Yes, Italy has a state list of sites to be filtered.

      With the excuse of protection from child pornography they started state filter and they are now expanding them to block other inconvenient sites.

      First online gambling sites not agreeing to pay italian administration their share.

      Then sites selling cigarettes.

      Then The Pirate Bay.

      It is just a matter of time until they will block sites criticizing the government itself.

    • the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia.

      And Australia [slashdot.org].

    • No North Korea?
  • by ilithiiri (836229) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:51PM (#25996579) Homepage Journal

    Here for his post http://www.beppegrillo.it/eng/2008/12/open_letter_to_rupert_murdoch.html [beppegrillo.it]

    Beppe Grillo is an Italian *comedian* turned blogger turned person fed up with the current state of italian affairs. He tried (so far in vain) to promote laws signed by the populace, which would not allow politicians to be in the Parliament if they have been convicted by courts.

    On any other country (well, most of them) this would be implied, wouldn't it?

    No chance!

    Read on to http://www.beppegrillo.it/eng/condannati_parlamento.php [beppegrillo.it] for the state of the art of the Italian parliament.

    25 politicians in the Italian and European parliament convicted by courts.

    Did they steal candy? No chance.

    We're talking about judge corruption, extortion, that sort of stuff.

    On topic: Berlusconi seems he'd like now to create a UNIQUE ID for every net citizen so that they'd be univocally identified on the Internet.

    Sigh.

    • by Shin-LaC (1333529)
      Linking to a barely related (and barely coherent) blog post before going on a wholly off-topic rant does not quite make a comment on-topic. I'm not sure what makes Beppe Grillo's opinion relevant: his (former?) career as a comedian? His stint as a demagogue? His multiple manslaughter conviction? Italian public opinion has moved past the anti-political phase that characters like Grillo briefly embodied. The current government is doing a pretty decent job (which looks like a stellar job when compared to its p
    • Beppe Grillo [...] tried (so far in vain) to promote laws signed by the populace, which would not allow politicians to be in the Parliament if they have been convicted by courts.

      On any other country (well, most of them) this would be implied, wouldn't it?

      Oddly enough, not in the United States. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (he of "the Internet is a series of tubes" fame) was convicted of multiple felonies yet was not barred from office. This had the Republicans in a bit of a pickle until he was defeated in

    • Even the US convicted parliamentary can be elected. The logic is probably that if you bar anybody convicted being elected, then politically you can have a great might by just either threatening to convict people, or even eliminate your political foe by convicting them of something minor. Now I tend to agree that corruption crime should ANYWAY make them unelectable, but once you start flagging SOME crime as making you unelectable, where do you set the limit ?
      • by lgw (121541)

        If you believe in democracy in the first place, then the voters are perfectly capable of deciding whether or not a politician should be elected despite a crimial record. How many crimes were Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa convicted of?

    • On topic: Berlusconi seems he'd like now to create a UNIQUE ID for every net citizen so that they'd be univocally identified on the Internet.

      And the populace is all singing and screaming "No" with a single voice?

  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by homer_s (799572) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:52PM (#25996599)
    I assume that since many people here support govt. regulation of industry and commerce, they should be all for this idea. I mean, if a complex system like the economy cannot function well without govt. regulation, a complex system like the internet cannot either.
    • I say mod parent up. That's an excellent question.

      I do support govt regulation of industry and commerce.

      I support government regulation of the mechanical aspects of the internet, specifically net neutrality. I support internet privacy laws.

      I do not support government regulation of the content of the internet.

      I don't think that car manufacturers should be prohibited from making polka dotted ugly ass cars if they want to.

    • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:26PM (#25996991)

      Regulation of commerce != censorship of media.

      The former is a matter of preventing industrial sharks from taking over and squeezing every last penny from consumers while offering sub-par service, the latter involves imposing someone else's subjective moral values on the general populace. Not the same thing at all.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:37PM (#25997105) Homepage

      Absolutely! No more allowing people just to connect to the Internet with any address they choose! Instead, I propose some sort of standard Internet Protocol address. And a central organization to assign everyone those addresses. Then, we can have some sort of header on every packet that will describe the source and destination address.

      Perhaps we could have a central organization who would assign names to those addresses. And they could standardize the naming schemes, and the protocols the naming servers use!

      nahh... that's just too much regulation :)

  • by blhack (921171) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:53PM (#25996609)

    It has been said before, and I will repeat it here.

    The internet treats censorship like damage and simply routes around it.

    This "war on free information" (isn't the the en vogue thing to call a power struggle?) like every other idealogical war, cannot be won, and is counterproductive.
    With every "blow" to us (us being those that desire freedom of information) we simply grow smarter, stronger, and more sophisticated in our measures to ensure the integrity of our freedoms.
    Our numbers are so so so so so much greater than theirs. Every time one of us is jailed, or sued, or defamed 10 pop up as replacements. Every attempt to silence our voices results in us retreating further and further into obscurity and anonymity.

    I welcome an information war between those of us who want freedom of communication and those that don't. We, who have greater resources, intellect, and numbers, will prevail.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I welcome an information war between those of us who want freedom of communication and those that don't. We, who have greater resources, intellect, and numbers, will prevail.

      Except if we're complacent in the face of truly massive damage to the internet because we think we'll somehow automagically prevail. Sorry, but the internet's capacity to route around damage is limited, as any network admin can tell you. If you don't keep fighting every day to defend internet liberty, one day it'll be gone. Attackers only need to win once, defenders need to win always.

      Frankly, I for one think we need to go on the attack - destroy corrupt politicians proactively. Hack their systems and le

    • by Miseph (979059) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @09:17PM (#25997489) Journal

      "Every attempt to silence our voices results in us retreating further and further into obscurity and anonymity."

      Yeah, sounds like we're really winning the war on censorship and defending our rights to free speech... Here's a hint, if you have to say something in increasingly anonymous and more obscure ways, you're losing.

      No government can ever prevent anything completely, only to degrees. The more they crack down, the more things will be done in secrecy, and the less people will actually do them at all. This is why the wars on drugs and terror have been such abysmal failures, they failed to curb the behaviors at all (perhaps even encouraging them!) and have had hardly any effect on the degree of publicity people who do them are willing to expose themselves to; by comparison, the war on child pornography has gotten people using increasingly obscure means of communication and distribution, kiddie porn still exists and probably always will, but I remember a time not so long ago when one could actually come across http sites openly hosting child porn for all to see.

      This post is not intended to support or endorse any particular view on the issues it mentions, simply to state a point on government suppression in general.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      I think you welcome it as long as it's outside the US. This sort of garbage going on in the US could be very damaging indeed, as a huge chunk of internet backbone and servers is located in the US. The US gov also has the resources to track p2p people down and throw them in jail. Just imagine a law banning p2p outright. Thankfully, the US has a Bill of Rights which still has pretty strong backing by an armed public, despite years of erosion and brainwashing.

      'Internet information wars' are only fun when you h

  • by chrb (1083577) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:56PM (#25996639)

    Since Berlusconi didn't expand on what he meant, the Register article is slightly alarmist. Maybe he wants to regulate download speeds, or legislate net neutrality? The bald statement of wanting to "regulate the internet" is worthless. If he did want to restrict freedom of speech, and an E.U. directive were put forward, it would still need to be passed into national law by the E.U. member states, and even if that occurred it could still be challenged at the European Court under the Human Rights legislation.

    But realistically, the Internet is already regulated. Try putting a copy of Photoshop or pornography involving a 15 year old girl on your web page and see how long it lasts. The question is not whether the Internet is regulated, but the level of regulation. In China, criticising the government is prohibited. In the Middle East, pornography is prohibited. In the United States, reproducing commercial sensitive data is prohibited via copyright and patent laws, in Germany Nazi memorabilia is prohibited. Every society has its limits.

    • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:40PM (#25997147) Homepage

      In China, criticising the government is prohibited. In the Middle East, pornography is prohibited. In the United States, reproducing commercial sensitive data is prohibited via copyright and patent laws, in Germany Nazi memorabilia is prohibited. Every society has its limits.

      Which is precisely why G8 is the wrong group to tackle Internet regulation. Every society has its limits, but no society has exactly the same limits as the others. G8 is too far removed from the public interest to do any good here, and the interests of those who would regulate the Internet too different to lead to anything but an unreasonable "middle ground".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drspliff (652992)

        As the G8 president he can use his position to set agendas and to push his position on other members, hopefully they won't take it any further.

        The G8 is just yet another platform of power on the international level, it doesn't matter that it's too far removed from the public - that's likely of no matter; getting other high-ranking officials to take it on-board may lead to setting their own policies in a similar vain.

    • Try putting a copy of Photoshop or pornography involving a 15 year old girl on your web page and see how long it lasts.

      Do we get to chose the country it's hosted from?

  • Streissand effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blhack (921171) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:01PM (#25996707)

    Look at what happend to 4chan and "anonymous" over the last year of so. Somebody posted a video of Tom Cruise acting like...well...like himself. Scientology's attempts to take this video down caused a bunch of idiots to start posting videos on youtube and..well...acting like idiots. Scientology's further attempts to silence them have caused what started as a joke to turn into a national-news-making group of resourceful, hate-filled individuals bent on "dispelling your organization from the internet and systematically dismantling it blah blah blah"

    I predict: Cisco makes a shitload of money selling filters
    a shitload of jobs are created to maintain all the censoring equipment
    a shitload of our money is spent to prevent us from communicating with one another
    a shitload of computer illiterates get angry when whatever side effects of this "regulation" start occuring
    a small number of geeks create a tool to allow a slightly larger number of geeks to continue doing what geeks have done since their beginning...that is: whatever they want.

  • Is there any guarantee that Berlusconi will still be Prime Minister in January? Historically they've changed governments more frequently than Cowboy Neal changes his pants... ;-)

    • by azaris (699901)

      Is there any guarantee that Berlusconi will still be Prime Minister in January?

      Hilarious. There's more chance of Vladimir Putin being deposed than Berlusconi. He's prime minister for the fourth time already, and he's not going anywhere.

      • An example that proves my point. He's been prime minister 4 times... that's at least 8 governments right there as he's been in and out of power. Unless he's 100 years old that's a lot of change you can't necessarily believe in...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Is there any guarantee that Berlusconi will still be Prime Minister in January? Historically they've changed governments more frequently than Cowboy Neal changes his pants... ;-)

      How often does one need to change assless chaps?

  • Its inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:13PM (#25996837) Homepage Journal

    Not today, not tomorrow, but someday you can expect content regulation to take place.

    As we lose control little by little of our hardware, software, documents ( DRM ), its just a matter of time.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Not today, not tomorrow, but someday you can expect content regulation to take place.

      Um, last I checked content was regulated. If you arrange to commit a crime via the internet, it's illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    will make me take up arms. Food prices have gone up, there's no hope of retirement, the tap water is poison, they are spraying the sky with aluminum oxide, pulsing us with HAARP and now they want to regulate the internet!

    I will start to take out these people by force if necessary once the internet becomes what it is not right now.

    • by earlymon (1116185)

      I, for one, am delighted to live in a world where people will take up arms for the internet after living (and putting up) with poisoned air and water.

      This just in - the internet hasn't been what it's been since AOL opened its spigot and Kevlar is on sale for the holidays - film at 11.

  • by mahohmei (540475) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:27PM (#25997003)

    C'mon, censoring the Internet can't be that hard. Just get a Websense filtering appliance and stick it in the Internet's MDF.

  • Dumbocracy (Score:3, Funny)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:30PM (#25997027) Homepage

    The more mainstream the Internet becomes, the more it yields to dumb. Some people blame AOL. I blame humanity.

    Dumb has large numbers behind it.

  • by BumpyCarrot (775949) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:32PM (#25997047)

    Truly, Prime Minister Berlusconi is a great man, a marvel, the pinnacle of international leadership, and an example to us all.

    When Obama was elected as President, he was the first to compliment him on his suntan.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:32PM (#25997051) Homepage

    I expect that Berlusconi's definition of "regulate the Internet" is "make it stop competing with my television stations". Italians are to get their porn exclusively from him.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The old media moguls like Berlusconi and Murdoch are obviously pissed off at the internet. Advertisers now split their revenue between old and new media and there is now a voice outside of what the old media tells us.

      Here in Australia, the home of Rupert Murdoch, we have a government trying to destroy the internet at every opportunity. I see in Italy they have a similar thing happening.

      I guess i can take comfort in the fact it won't work.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is as if Jeffrey Archer or Robert Maxwell got to be prime minister of Britain.

    He got rich by a combination bending the rules and having scantily dressed young women present the weather on his TV channels. Now he is in power he just stops all investigations into his activities.

    He will just regulate the Internet so that no one can criticize him using it.

  • The internet is the freest and most unregulated source of information there is. Certainly governments would want to regulate this, as many facts that make them uncomfortable can be spread. The mainstream media cannot be counted on to report everything; look at their cheer leading for the Iraq invasion. Latvia even made it a crime to criticize their central bank policies, and bloggers can end up in trouble. The internet needs less regulation, not more. All we'll end up with with regulation is having to pay
  • Own it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:43PM (#25997175) Homepage

    I guess he wants to own the internet, just like he owns most of the mass media in Italy. Good luck with that!

  • Silvio owns EVERYTHING !!!
  • In a free world... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by noddyxoi (1001532)
    the internet regulates dictators.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @09:29PM (#25997583)

    the Internet is Berlusconi's worst enemy. His control of printed media and private as well as public televisions prompted the Financial Times to talk of a situation similar to North Korea.

    However, he has no control of what happens on the 'Net and he makes no money out of it.

    For both financial and political reasons Internet is bad for him.

    Unsurprisingly, the government hasn't done anything to increase the use of Internet in Italy and it now lags almost at the bottom of Europe.

  • If he were somehow able to pull this off (a laughable scenario, judging by the comments), alternatives would pop up pretty quickly (a non-Internet WAN?)
  • quote about damage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Did the person who originated that quote about routing around damage, anticipate countries the size of China literally making continent-wide firewalls and controlling communications with penalties of summary execution?

    • by w0mprat (1317953)

      Did the person who originated that quote about routing around damage, anticipate countries the size of China literally making continent-wide firewalls and controlling communications with penalties of summary execution?

      Traffic routes around China just fine thanks.

  • FTFFFFA: "fundamental design of the Internet involves routing around damage, the efforts could be more amusing than threatening."

    Yes yes, those who actually understand what the intrawebs are, know that the internet works, exists and persists because it fundamentally routes around damage and congestion.

    Ah but you can regulate vastly distributed decentralised self organising networks. No really. There is no question the result is quite damaging.

    That is, if you consider an analogy of giving a neural ne

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