Monday, 22 October 2007

I saw this coming...

The Levi-Prodi law and the end of the Internet

Italy is proposing a law that will require bloggers to get registered. Not only that:

the Levi-Prodi law obliges anyone who has a website or a blog to get a publishing company and to have a journalist who is on the register of professionals as the responsible director

Three years ago I predicted that in 10 years governments will require everyone to get an 'internet license' in much the same way that we (in the UK at least) have a TV license. Of course the government will arrange it in such a way that it will be 'for our own good'. The excuse they will use is that internet crime happens because it is possible to hide or spoof one's identity.

This is how it will work. The government will require you to register your identity, paying (an initially) small fee. They will issue you with an id using some form of public/private encryption key, as currently used by industry for VPNs, HTTPS, etc.

The government will also monitor communications, purely for our own security; to combat spammers, terrorists and paedophiles.

I think the government should butt out. The internet is ours. It is the best medium for democratisation the world has yet seen. This relies on the fact that it is NOT controlled by any government. We should not trade this for the modicum of 'security' that government control would provide.

I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised that Italy is the first European nation to be taking steps towards government control of the internet. They have much authoritarian influence in their culture, from the roman empire, the 'holy' roman empire, 1st and 2nd world war fascist movements, and various forms of oligarchy since then.

Which country is next? Mark my words, according to my prediction, we have 7 years left before we all need some form of internet license. I'll take any bets that that will come true.

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