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Supreme court: right to be forgotten just two years after the fact

A ruling filed on June 24, 2016 authorized the removal after 24 months of a news story from the Abruzzo web newspaper Primadanoi.it on true facts and reported correctly

A ruling by the First Civil Section of the Supreme Court ended a three years long judicial dispute by ordering the Abruzzo web newspaper Primadanoi.it to the removal of an article in the name of the largely unregulated right to be forgotten. It is not good news for the right to inform because it sets a bad precedent, both in relation to the time lapse as well as in relation to the freedom of the press. In fact, both the first-instance judgment of the Court of Ortona as well as the decision by the Supreme Court do not dispute that the article, referred to a matter of crime, tells the truth and was written correctly and that the principles of freedom of the press were satisfied. But they allow to see prevail the right to see an article removed and de-index it from the name of a character after only two years from the facts. The orientation of the Supreme Court has not gone in this direction before. Therefore it is called “accelerated oblivion”, as explained in part by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, and even dubbed “next day censorship”, as the chief editor of Primadanoi.it, Alessandro Biancardi, wrote bitterly. Probably the story will not end here, because the little combative newspaper is planning to appeal to the Strasbourg Court, which has a completely different orientation.

The facts are clear. In 2008 in a restaurant in Ortona (in the province of Chieti) two people stab each other. The Chieti web newspaper writes about it. And writes truthfully and correctly, as is also recognizes by the Supreme Court. But two years later, the club owner notifies the news outlet to remove and de-index the article that has been drawing negative attention to his restaurant. The Ortona Court accepted the appeal in 2013 and inflicted to the editor a fine of ten thousand euro, authorizing the seizure of the journalist’s scooter, which does not own other property. The newspaper protests, recourses to the Supreme Court, and three and a half years later, on June 24, 2016, the judges of the First Civil Chamber decided in a ruling that confirms the first-instance judgment, claiming that the online presence of the article harms the image of the restaurant manager. The freedom of the press and the public interest have already been satisfied, say the judges, from the time that the text remained on line. Yet the trial for the stabbing only commenced in May 2016: therefore, the story is very current. Ossigeno recalls that in Italy the right to be forgotten is not regulated by any law.


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