Italy’s Chamber of Deputies has proposed a ‘Draft Declaration of Internet Rights’ (Declaration), acknowledging both the way in which the internet has changed interactions and the way it has erased borders, but also noting that the EU’s protection of personal data is a necessary reference for governing operation of the internet. The Declaration is now open to public consultation until 27 February 2015.
The aim of the Declaration is to establish some general principles to be implemented by national legislation. It consists of a preamble and 14 articles covering topics including the fundamental right to internet access, net neutrality and right to be forgotten.
In particular, there is strong emphasis on the protection of the individual from widespread monitoring. Article 9 of the Declaration, for example, states that restrictions on anonymous communications "may be imposed only when based on the need to safeguard the public interest and are necessary, proportionate, and grounded in law and in accordance with the basic principles of a democratic society."
This publication is not the first of its kind and follows the German Bundestag committee work on the ‘Digital Agenda’, France’s parliamentary committee report on Rights and Liberties in the Digital Age, and Brazil’s Marco Civil.
The Declaration has received a mixed response, including from Italy’s Data Protection Commissioner, who expressed some concern about the rights to be anonymous and to be forgotten (Articles 9 and 10). A particular concern raised about the right to be forgotten, relates to increasing the scope of the right to permit court appeals of decisions relating to search engine de-listings where there is a public interest in preserving the information, which in principle sounds like a promotion of freedom of speech, but could have the opposite effect by focusing undue attention on individual requesting de-listing.
As a Declaration it will not become binding even after being finalised after the public consultation period; however, it will form a statement of principles on internet governance and the rights of individuals.