I’ve occasionally posted news reports out of Italy on the debate there over revising their wiretapping laws. In what might strike Americans as odd, the government is trying to restrict wiretapping, while other groups are fighting the proposal.
A report in today’s BBC indicates that Italy leads European countries on wiretaps:
The ministry of justice says that in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, 124,326 phone taps were authorised.
The authoritative Max Planck Institute has calculated that in 2006, 76 out of every 100,000 Italians had their phones tapped. The next nearest European country was the Netherlands, with 62 out of every 100,000, followed by Switzerland with 32 people out of every 100,000.
Supporters of the wiretapping bill say that if you count all those with whom the people that have their phones tapped are speaking, millions of Italians have had their conversations listened to.
It all makes Italy the eavesdropping centre of Europe.
So who’s fighting attempts to rein in the use of wiretaps by the proposed legislation? The BBC reports:
But police, prosecutors, publishers and opposition parties all say it goes too far, as it would inhibit investigations and limit the media’s ability to report on matters of public interest.
Magistrates would only be able to carry out intercepts for up to 75 days (with a short extension possible on top of that), and not the 18 months or so that some investigations now last.
And publishers could face fines of up to 465,000 euros (£384,000; $563,000) for reporting the content of wiretaps, while the journalists involved would risk jail.
Read more on BBC.
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the bill has now advanced through Italy’s senate and provides some details as to the arguments in the senate yesterday.