Passport Required to Use the Internet in Italy

Why? Terrorism.

After Italy passed a new antiterrorism package in July, authorities ordered managers offering public communications services, like Mr. Savoni,to make passport photocopies of every customer seeking to use the Internet, phone, or fax.

Posted on October 18, 2005 at 8:09 AM • 33 Comments

Comments

DaveOctober 18, 2005 9:14 AM

When traveling in Italy in summer 2004, I was asked for my passport before being issued a login for an internet cafe. The man behind the counter explained that it was government regulation. You already have to leave your passport with the hotel desk long enough for them to "process" it in Italy, so this came as no surprise.

AqualungOctober 18, 2005 9:26 AM

Surely getting "unaudited" network access in this WiFi world can't be that hard.

yOctober 18, 2005 10:12 AM

Italy is, of course, renowned world-wide for its labyrinthine bureaucracy--it is the land of red tape and blue ink. The Italians perfected the art in the time of Augustus. The bronze tablets of his day can still be seen; but bureaucratic procedure is a monumentum aere perennius.

denisOctober 18, 2005 10:27 AM

Not that I'm a historian by profession, but my impression stemming from my education years was that the Italians of today are not the same people, or nation, as the Romans. My impression was that the original Romans got killed or assimilated into tribes that increasingly attacked the Roman empire as it fell.

jammitOctober 18, 2005 10:49 AM

How much data is needed to be collected until the bulk data becomes a fuzzy, worthless snowstorm? How in the hell is this going to stop "terrorism" (note the quotes)? I would like to know who is the retarded chimp that thought of this and his silly reason of why to do it. Just for laughs. I guess the terrorists will have to blog from slow and crappy dial up. That alone should prevent bandwith hogging decapitation videos.

havvokOctober 18, 2005 10:59 AM

Jeez. Haven't you guys ever heard that the only people who should fear a police state are criminals?

:P

I wonder though, how long does it take for a passport to be authenticated, or is it even authenticated before the user gets to go online.

If they are not authenticated, how well trained are these proprietors to screen for forged passports? I know I could knock a falsified one together looking like a [presumed] Vanuata passport. I imagine that not many people see those in Italy ;)

TheArcherOctober 18, 2005 11:01 AM

"This is a waste of time," says Ms. Malesa in a telephone interview. "Terrorists don't come to Internet cafes."

What an amazingly astute statement. Isn't it much more likely that Osama has an ISP account under a fake name somewhere?

Normally I wouldn't dream of ascribing anything but the purest of motives to our elected officials, but sometimes it appears that the Italian government, like so many others, is using the "war on terror" as a convenient pretext for broader police and state surveillance powers. The Italian government requiring passports for Internet access is just the latest example.

theoOctober 18, 2005 11:06 AM

I'm translating with google, I'm sorry about my English...
quote: "OMG, it seems Europe is on the way to becoming as moronic as the
US.".
I hope that we'll never arrive to such a level :-D
However, during a conference on Web 2.0, near the PCs, there were these
frightening posters about the access to internet
NAVIGATION WITH AN OPERATOR.
THEREFORE IT'S NOT PERMITTED, DURING NAVIGATION, TO USE E-MAIL OR PERSONAL
COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS>

Arturo QuirantesOctober 18, 2005 11:07 AM

So long for the Schengen Space. As a Spanish citizen, I can travel the entire EU without my passport, only with my national ID card, but I cannot surf the Web in Italy! How long till we are all required to show our e-passport to watch this very website? D'oh!

Nigel SedgwickOctober 18, 2005 11:08 AM

@havvok

Is it not more that case that, in the minds of a police state, all who fear it ARE criminals.

@bruce

Thanks for the heads up on this article. As I view internet and fax connectivity as a 52/7 requirement, and really hate bureaucracy, that's Italy off the family holiday list.

Best regards

RvnPhnxOctober 18, 2005 11:47 AM

There's many a reason that this is onerous and improper besides the obvious.
I quote:
"Like other owners of Internet cafes, Savoni had to obtain a new public communications business license, and purchase tracking software that costs up to $1,600."

Now, whom writes that software, what OS/browser(s) is it compatible with, how does it secure the information it collects, and whom is responsible for any harm that program may cause the cafe owners or clients?

Steve L.October 18, 2005 11:57 AM

'"If I am not doing anything wrong, fundamentally nothing is going to happen to me," says Mauro Pallotta, a young artist, after checking his e-mail at Savoni's cafe.'

It's naive beliefs like these that will lead to police states. "Oh well it doesn't effect me because, well I'm not a terrorist, so I don't have to be worried..." about the senseless trampling of rights and privacy. It's crazy and very scary. Will there be anywhere left in the world in 20 years that will "free", at least as free as we were in the US during the early 90's (which arguably could have been better).

Whenver I see these kinds of laws being passed without any kind of struggle or any kind of real attempt by our representatives or fellow citizens to block it I become deeply concerned. Everytime I am reminded of the following quote written about Nazi Germany:

"They came for the Communists, but I wasn't a Communist so I didn't object. They came for the Socialists, but I wasn't a Socialist so I didn't object. They came for the trade union leaders, but I wasn't a union leader so I didn't object. They came for the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew so I didn't object. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to object."
-The Reverend Martin Niemoeller

Let us hope that it doesn't ever reach this point again... Though I fear it may within many of our lifetimes.

Clive RobinsonOctober 18, 2005 12:00 PM

In Europe we do have the human rights act, and in theory (only) it can be used to overturn and revoke unjust or descriminatory laws.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if a resident of another EU country started a Human Rights case on this. I get the feeling it will get a lot more support than "sex changes for prisoners" or other cases that have been brought...

ARLOctober 18, 2005 12:12 PM

What people miss in this is that the State will find new ways to make you a criminal. Then by looking back at something you did years ago, use it as evidence to move against you in the present.

The young artist may one day find an Email that contains some illegal speach and then be accountable for it.

Gerd RauschOctober 18, 2005 12:32 PM

Why would anyone even attempt to believe that the official reason given, i.e. "terrorism", is what this provision really tries to accomplish?
One has to look at who benefits from this in order to find the real motives.

Matti KinnunenOctober 18, 2005 3:47 PM

Well, already in 2002 they asked for my passport when I was leaving my bag in the left-luggage in the Venice railway station. They also called somewhere and made some queries while holding my passport. It took more than 10 minutes for them to make sure that I am not a well-known terrorist in Italy.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 18, 2005 5:11 PM

I guess we could say that this wouldn't be the first time Italy has followed the precedent of a "rogue nation" and chilled the rights of its own citizenry, but perhaps the comparison should be the other way around?

http://www.thestandard.com/internetnews/002779.php

"In Italy 72 people have their phones under surveillance for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to figures from Germany's Max Planck Institute. That compares with 62 in the Netherlands, 32 in Switzerland, nine in Austria and 0.5 in the United States, the German criminological research institute said."

Davi OttenheimerOctober 18, 2005 5:12 PM

Also, I thought it interesting to see someone point to the US as an example of a nation that violates rights:

"Savoni says the new law violates his privacy, comparing it to America's antiterrorism law that allows authorities to monitor Internet use without notifying the person in question."

Hardly the sort of image that Truman fought for; I've seen this sort of commentary in several places. For example, Hendrickson wrote recently, "Favorable attitudes toward America dropped by 20 to 30 percentage points in foreign countries between 2001 and 2003, the general pattern showing almost no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, class, national origin, or sexual orientation."

http://www.realisticforeignpolicy.org/archives/2004/05/_empire_has_sha.php

Davi OttenheimerOctober 18, 2005 9:09 PM

Also, I thought it interesting to see someone point to the US as an example of a nation that violates rights:

"Savoni says the new law violates his privacy, comparing it to America's antiterrorism law that allows authorities to monitor Internet use without notifying the person in question."

Hardly the sort of image that Truman fought for; I've seen this sort of commentary in several places. For example, Hendrickson wrote recently, "Favorable attitudes toward America dropped by 20 to 30 percentage points in foreign countries between 2001 and 2003, the general pattern showing almost no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, class, national origin, or sexual orientation."

http://www.realisticforeignpolicy.org/archives/2004/05/_empire_has_sha.php

RichOctober 18, 2005 11:20 PM

Heck, in the US you have to show ID (driver's license or passport) to return a $10 pair of jeans to The GAP.

Even if the credit card you used to make the purchase has your picture on it.

MikeOctober 19, 2005 3:26 AM

@Rich

That's somewhat different. While I do have some problems with privacy related matters regarding businesses, the saving grace is that Gap isn't a monopoly, if you don't like their policies then you can shop elsewhere (and tell them why you are shopping elsewhere for the little good it will do).
Laws such as this that reduce privacy for no clear benefit are more serious because it's much harder for a resident of that country to take their business elsewhere. They'd have to move to a different country, which is must more difficult than shopping at a different store.

DarkFireOctober 19, 2005 9:25 AM

@ Davi:

That statistic you quoted of 72 phones per 100,000 people works out at 0.072%.

Unfortunately for modern society this is drastically lower than the pertcentage of the population who commit criminal offences.

Even more so for the other countries....

Davi OttenheimerOctober 19, 2005 12:26 PM

@ DarkFire

Yes, well, that's the problem with statistics.

I think the article was pointing out that Italy's government has a well-worn path of monitoring just about anyone they want to for any reason. In fact the low percentage, if you read the article, is said to be a result of the inability to scale their monitoring capabilities any higher. So you have to ask if they had the technology/money to grow, would the number jump dramatically?

Also note that the monitoring used to be done under the guise of fighting organized crime, with little or no obstacles for investigators. Back to the numbers, if you slice the percentages by the list of "supected" criminals, or even by the number of suspected felons/terrorists, or a watch list, etc. then it might be a little more meaningful/alarming.

RichOctober 19, 2005 12:31 PM

@Mike
"if you don't like their policies then you can shop elsewhere"

Aside from the privacy issue- they also don't make it clear that you have to provide ID to return something. It is in the fine print, but not obvious. Since most consumers have the expectation of being able to make a return, I feel like the ID requirement is a bait and switch.

And I have written to complain.

What I think is important is that we as a society are like frogs in a pot slowly being brought to boil. Sure, some of us shop elsewhere and write letters, but not enough to matter. It won't be long before ID will be required at most stores. Then virtually all stores. And if they can find an excuse to require it for purchases, they will.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 19, 2005 5:43 PM

Hmmph, sorry about the repeats. Moderator, please feel free to delete one of my numerous repetitive attempts to get around the filters. I promise I'll only post once from now on.

BobskiOctober 19, 2005 6:19 PM

I'll just use my Azerbajanii Passport that I created for myself - they're not going to be able to process that or know what a real one looks like.....hahaha

AnonymousJanuary 8, 2008 9:02 AM

i dont understand anything.what u write plz give some strong suggesstion about miss use of internet

rinDecember 30, 2013 3:11 AM

Just curious...will internet cafe operators in Italy be penalised for not complying with the regulations?

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