Skip to main content

With the Wall Street Journal’s leak a couple of week’s ago regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s potential hybrid proposal to net neutrality and President Obama’s call for strong net neutrality rules via Title II, discussions about keeping the Internet open and free are at an all time high.

This week, Italian lawmakers introduced draft legislation, “Dichiarazione dei diritti in Internet” – translated to English “Draft Declaration of Internet Rights.” The draft declaration recognizes the Internet’s key role in promoting a “more open and free society” and lists 14 principles to ensure the “democratic functioning of institutions.” Of these 14 principles, net neutrality and the right to be forgotten are important to note.

The Italian proposal suggests that Internet users should not be subject to “discrimination, restrictions, or interferences” regardless of whether users choose to access online services through fixed or mobile mechanisms. Stateside, The Internet Association has continuously called for strong, enforceable rules that would prevent broadband service providers from engaging in discriminatory practices and paid prioritization while also ensuring transparency.

While we can agree with the draft’s description of net neutrality and non-discrimination, other parts of the principles are troubling. For instance, the draft also includes a “right to be forgotten” principle. In the recent past, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling permitting individuals in Europe to request that their personal information be deleted if they deem it outdated, irrelevant, or otherwise offensive. The Internet Association believe that the ECJ’s ruling undermines the basic notions of free expression and limits the public’s ability to access lawful information. The right to be forgotten goes against the very principle of keeping the Internet open and free.

The draft is currently available for public consultation; however, it is not expected to become law as written. According to news reports, the principles may be transposed into law at various levels such as government initiatives, national laws, European directives, constitutional amendments, etc. Italian officials plan to publish a summary of public feedback received as well as a final version of the Bill of Rights on or by February 27, 2015.