The third vote on the proposed wiretapping bill is being pressed forward in the lower house and predicted to pass within the next few days. The new bill, already passed by the executive council and senate, would limit the use of wiretapping by the government. Three limitations would be set forth to regulate wiretapping. First a placed capstone on the maximum amount of days able to wiretap set at seventy-five days, secondly to make it necessary to have a warrant for wiretapping approved by three judges not solely one, and lastly require special authorization to listen in on conversations conducted by priests. Along with these increased limitations, any recorded wiretapping transcripts would remain in the hands of the Italian government until a judicial trial is conducted on the matter. The only exception to the bill would be any wiretapping that involves mafia, or terrorist crimes.
Journalists and prosecutors across Italy are outraged on this proposed bill, nicknaming it “the gag law.” Freedom of press has become a universal standard throughout international law. The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, along with other European organizations, are pressuring Italian government to rethink the amendment. Journalists have threatened to conduct a full scale news blackout on July 9th, the anticipated date of the bill’s passage, illustrating the projected affects of the bill. Without access to wiretapping transcripts, the people of Italy would be less informed on current national issues and a new level of trust would be put into the hands of the Italian government which many oppose. The distancing between governmental investigations and the lack of communication towards the Italian people would be a counter attack on the current Italian democracy.
Berlusconi’s government argues the fundamental right to individual’s privacy and the necessity of passing the bill to protect those rights. Many individuals suffer from trial by the media rather than judicial trials conducted because of twisted dialogue that journalists grasp onto. Berlusconi feels it is time to put an end to this.
Counter arguments against Berlusconi suggest that the bill is “ad personam,” or tailored to Berlusconi’s personal needs. Two members of Berlusconi’s cabinet, Minster for Economic Development and Head of Civil Protection, have left office due to scandals discovered by wiretapping transcripts in the past twelve months. Most recently reported on Berlusconi’s private life is the infamous sex scandal with minors. Senator, Paolo Guzzanti, claims President Giorgio Napolitano bribed newspapers not to publish transcripts that prove Berlusconi guilty of involvement with prostitution. Perhaps Berlusconi’s passion for protection of individual privacy is really a mask of fear for his one private life.
Written by Emily Marullo
Politics Intern at The Florence Newspaper