On October 13, 2014, under the auspices of the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, an expert Committee published the draft of a first Italian “Internet Bill of Rights”, centered on the fundamental principles, which should govern and protect Internet as an open platform necessary for free economic development and exercise of individual fundamental freedoms.
The Bill is quite short, being formed of a preamble and 14 Articles, focused on statements and cornerstones affecting fundamental rights and liberties on the Internet, much as the prior “Marco Civil da Internet” adopted in Brazil in April.
Yet apparently the Italian exercise has moved a bit further the crossbar. As known, the Marco Civil was enacted in Brazil on April 23, 2014 during the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (“Netmundial”, www.netmundial.br, congregating 1,480 participants from 97 countries worldwide), and has since then become a landmark in the side implications affecting the general topic of Internet governance.
The Italian Bill of Rights Declaration reaffirms again, much as the Marco Civil, the fundamental principles of liberty, equality, dignity and diversity of individuals, guaranteeing the exercise of all related individual rights on the Internet, identified as a fundamental platform for democracy and general economic development. Public and private powers may not exercise surveillance and control on the Internet, and personal data is seen as a fundamental right belonging to the individual, whose storage, processing or use must be subject to informed consent.
Among the novelties, access to Internet is identified as an individual right belonging to any man under conditions of equality, to be exercised with “adequate and up to date” technological expedients or means. Net neutrality is also not identified in a vague fashion, but rather is connected to a general obligation on telecommunications network operators to provide equal treatments to individuals, ensuring transparency and avoiding discrepancies or differentiations among transmissions where not allowed or permitted. Digital platforms and social networks must ensure honesty, transparency and correctness in the delivery of services or in the modification of terms of related use. Interoperability and migration of data are clearly identified as a fundamental condition for the competitive and transparent exercise of Internet services, in view also of ensuring equal rights and possibilities to individuals.
As a closing statement, the Bill addresses also a general path due by all legislators: future legislation affecting the Internet and related individual rights should previously undergo an assessment of its possible “digital ecosystem” impact. Wherever future regulation may lead, a prior evaluation of its implications on individual and collective rights affecting the Internet environment is required.