Italy. The most dangerous news by Ossigeno. September 2016
This monthly review of acts of intimidation in Italy is produced by Ossigeno per l’Informazione for the European Center for Press and Media Freedom of Leipzig (ECPMF), with the support of the European
Special Ossigeno’s Report on Law Bill on Cyberbullying (see below)
In September 2016, Oxygen for Information verified 200 cases of probable threats, intimidation and abuse that took place in Italy against journalists, bloggers and other media workers.
After thorough evaluation, the staff judged as credible 53 episodes against media professionals (27 men, 6 women and 20 n/d). The Observatory documented these episodes, publicised them and added the names of those threatened to its table of victims of serious violations of freedom of expression and of the press. This table, which is available online, see LINK, lists 2986 names, 313 of which were added during the first 274 days of 2016.
Each episode has been fully investigated and analyzed. Each has been made public by the Observatory with news, analysis and commentary published on the web site www.notiziario.ossigeno.info and disseminated through weekly newsletters in Italian and English. The most relevant cases were also signaled to press rooms of specific media through targeted press releases.
For this purpose Ossigeno has published 71 original news stories including 30 in English and 17 covering incidents of threats or abuse.
The entire Ossigeno staff worked also
- to implement Phase 2 of Ecpmf project
- to organize the first edition of the Premio Ossigeno Paolo Mario Grego that in October will be awarded to two M.A. theses about freedom of the press and censorship in Western countries. The first prize is one thousand five hundred euro and the other one thousand euro.The authors of a master’s thesis whose dissertation was held from January 2015 to July 2016 in the Universities of Rome La Sapienza, Tor Vergata, Roma Tre, Luiss and Lumsa are eligible for the Premio. The awards will be presented to the winners by the end of October of 2016 at a public ceremony
- to organize the scheduled conference to celebrate at the Italian Senate the International Day To End Impunity for crimes against journalists
- to renew the agreement with MLDI Media Legal Defence Initiative foundation that enables Ossigeno to give legal assistance to journalists hit with specious allegations
- to obtain from Government officials hitherto unpublished data on judicial processes for libelMoreover
- 16 September in Quarrata, a town in Tuscany, Ossigeno representatives, together with teachers and the Mayor, held a conference about the rule of law and about information as a right of every citizen. 250 students attended. The same day the Ossigeno wall panel depicting the 28 Italian journalists killed because of their work was delivered to the local branch of the CGIL trade unions and to the ARCI recreational club that dedicated one of its meeting rooms to the memory of Italian journalist Giovanni Spampinato, killed because of his investigative work.
- 22 September in Vatican City representatives of Ossigeno, Alberto Spampinato and Giuseppe F. Mennella, attended the hearing granted by Pope Francis to a delegation of Italian journalists.
- 28 September the jury of the Premio Ossigeno Paolo Mario Grego met to decide the winners.
Bad News. See the September weekly reports
Special Ossigeno’s Report on Law Bill on Cyberbullying
On September 20, 2016 the Chamber of Deputies made worrying changes to the original text. These changes arised the attention of the main international organizations, such as Osce and Commisioner of Council of Europe, that asked an expertise to Ossigeno to know at what extent it could allow censorship and severe abuse. After an in depth analysis and contacts with MPs, Ossigeno’s realeased the following report.
Ossigeno per l’Informazione believes that the changes made on September 20, 2016 by the Chamber of Deputies to the draft bill of law on combating cyberbullying, and which will now have to be re-examined and voted on by the Italian Senate, push it away from the stated purpose of protecting more effectively those minors harassed on the web.
These changes give rise to a reasonable concern that the new rules would restrict freedom of expression on the Internet, as claimed by several opposition lawmakers and some experts. The procedures would allow to obtain more easily, and without the due evaluation guarantees, the removal from the web not only of harassing content for minors, but also of legitimate criticisms that adults do against other adults.
In fact the new rules, which were originally designed to only protect children from harassment, would apply also to the harassment of adults, an issue that is already regulated by criminal law with broader guarantees of fairness. Under the new rules, anyone, may he be an adult or a minor, when he subjectively considers to have been molested by a published content on the web, will have the right to request the provider to remove it. And as such it is likely that their request will be accepted without any difficulty by the provider, to prevent that the Authority for the Protection of Personal Information may order so and, in case of refusal, may impose a financial penalty which is liable of reaching very high figures.
A committee of experts set up at the offices of the competent ministers will establish the rules that the Guarantor will have to apply. The law does not allocate financial resources for setting up an adequate professional task force within the offices of the Guarantor capable of coping with the new objectives of investigating requests and establishing a debating platform for the bickering parties.
Update: later, as a conseguence, the bill was emended in the right way from the Camera dei Deputati. On January 31, 2017, the Senate restored by a vote (224 in favor, one against and six abstentions) the limit of application of the bill on cyberbullying exclusively to children and harassment experienced on the web, excluding adults molested and other types of harassment. The Chamber of Deputies, which had extended the application to adults molested network, will now have to re-examine the text at its fourth reading.
OSSIGENO per l’Informazione is an observatory monitoring threatened journalists and news overshadowed by violence in Italy.The Observatory was launched in 2008 by FNSI, (National Federation of the Italian Press, the single journalists’ union) and the Ordine Nazionale dei Giornalisti (the Italian order of the journalists), together with the non-profit organisations in defence of press freedom Libera Informazione, Unione Nazionale Cronisti Italiani and Articolo 21. The name OSSIGENO (Oxygen in English) is symbolic: it conveys the message that information needs freedom and protection to perform its role of watchdog of democracy. OSSIGENO aims to document all the Italian cases of violent or abusive limitations on freedom of expression against journalists, writers, intellectuals, politicians, trade unionists, public officials and other citizens, paying special attention to what goes on, in information field, in the areas where the influence of criminal organisations is strong and deeply rooted. The Observatory performs continuous monitoring of threatened journalists, telling their stories through the online newspaper notiziario.ossigeno.info and in annual reports, published in different languages: the 2011/2012 one was translated into English, German, Spanish and Chinese. Ossigeno web page shows a table of journalists threatened. In April 2014 in the table are listed over 1800 names. Until some year ago, no one wanted to admit that in Italy there were journalists threatened. The monitoring of oxygen brought the issue in the public arena. OSSIGENO also promotes public initiatives in order to enhance the visibility of the threats, to strengthen solidarity with threatened journalists and to spread awareness among the public about the right to be fully informed, in an impartial way.
Rome, 30 september 2016