Italian Wikipedia protests censorship law

The Italian Wikipedia just blacked out its site in protest of a proposed law that would function to censor the Internet — mostly targeted at bloggers and online journalists. A group called Populo Viola are protesting in Rome. Hurray, Purple People!

The Italian government attempted to pass similar blog-censorship laws in 2007 and 2008.

As I understand it, section 29 of the proposed law says that in case of offensiveness, anyone (really anyone? I’m unclear on this point) can email a blogger or other online news source and demand a takedown in 48 hours, or the blogger can be fined 12,000 euros. If someone who can actually read Italian could explain this law better and who can send a takedown in what circumstances, I would love to see a link!

Also, can anyone explain “Populo Viola”? Why Purple People?

Needless to say there is hot and heavy argument about this on all fronts on Wikimedia discussion lists, where I lurk like a lurking thing. Some people are upset that a language-based Wikipedia project would blank itself (even temporarily) thus becoming involved in national-level politics (rather than remaining politically neutral, as perhaps befits an international nonpartisan encyclopedia). What if Australia blacked out the entire English Wikipedia to protest a law proposed in their country, affecting English speakers all over the world? On the other hand, Wikipedia is more a “citizen” of the Internet, isn’t it? So it would make sense for specific communities who make decisions about a language-based project to support an Internet (in Italy or elsewhere) that doesn’t put this kind of burden onto web publishers. The Wikimedia Foundation’s position so far is that since the Italian-speaking wikipedians went through a community process to decide to do this, it’s up to them what to do with their project, and the WMF supports their decision.

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