Italian lawmakers fail to tackle revenge porn and cyberbullying

Disclaimer: this photo does not depict Tiziana Cantone.
Disclaimer: this photo does not depict Tiziana Cantone.

Originally published on http://www.thespokenews.com

Italian lawmakers fail to tackle revenge porn and cyberbullying

By Tommaso Lecca

The suicide committed two weeks ago by Tiziana Cantone brought the topic of privacy on the Internet under the public spotlight.

The Italian 31-year-old woman’s friends (now prosecuted for defamation and suicide incitement) spread a video in which she performed a sexual act. The video was widely circulated on social media despite her lawyer’s attempts to have it removed from the internet. The case drew more public attention, turning her into an involuntary celebrity.

Cantone’s lawyer had asked the Napoli Tribunal to enforce the woman’s right to be forgotten, but the video still remains online. The details of her lawsuit are still classified.

“The real problem is that the right to be forgotten collides with the practical functioning of the Web and the consequences produced by content that becomes viral,” Baldo Meo, Director of Public and Media Relations of the Italian Data Protection Authority said to The Spoke.

Meo said some media companies probably interpret the right to be forgotten more loosely than the European Court of Justice originally did in a landmark decision on 2014. He added that it should be taken into account how difficult it is, if not impossible, to remove a video from the internet once it has gone viral.

Other experts say a better legal strategy might have helped Cantone.“It has nothing to do with the right to be forgotten,” said Giovanni Battista Gallus, a lawyer who has handled many cases involving citizens’ privacy on the Web. Instead, it “should have been considered a private correspondence violation and defamation case,” he added.

According to Gallus, the Italian parliament confounded the issue even more, when it responded to Cantone’s suicide by passing a week ago a law against cyberbullying, “which, again, has nothing to do with this tragedy.”

Approved unanimously in 2015 by the Italian Senate, the law against cyberbullying included some extraordinary measures to challenge the misconduct of minors against each other. Enjoying overwhelming support from the public, the law became controversial when it was amended last summer and approved on September 20th. The Justice and Social Affairs Committee, at the end of July, had extended the legal safeguards intended to avoid web-abuses against minors to all citizens.

Despite the new law, which still needs another approval by the Senate, Italy’s legal safeguards against abuse and violation of privacy on the Internet remain ill-suited to protect people like Tiziana Cantone. And the results, in many cases, are fatal.

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