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I want to focus on my country, in order to recall two issues, very negative and correlated risks. First of all, I want to underline the “risks of the political atmosphere”, the risk that judges and PP can unconsciously be conditioned by “atmosphere influences”. A few days ago a first instance court in Milan sentenced Mr Berlusconi to 4 years of imprisonment; it was not the first trial he was involved in (and this a demonstration of independency of the judiciary); the previous trials arrived to a sentence against other persons, but never against Mr Berlusconi, who was acquitted, at least with the formula that the proofs gathered were not sufficient (bard clause). In Italy we have – I think – the highest type of independency of the Judiciary in Europe; our Judiciary had to face several grave cases of widespread criminality: terrorisms, corruption, mafia. And were able to exercise its powers in a correct way, quite ever arriving to the reconstruction of the events and of the consequent responsibilities. Though, sometime, I am afraid that the above-mentioned decisions of acquittal of Mr Berlusconi could be in some extent related to the “atmosphere”. The doubt is that, maybe unconsciously and -of course – unwillingly, the “atmosphere” could influence some colleagues. And in this regard I must quote another phenomenon that happened in Mr Berlusconi’s term: the adoption of the “leges ad personam”. This included the adoption of new laws very urgently during the course of a criminal trial into which Mr Berlusconi was involved. The entering into force of these laws produced a patent effect: the acquittal of Mr Berlusconi. But there was a second and far more dangerous effect, an invisible effect: that is the message sent to the members of the Judiciary. Message was: mind you; it is not worthwhile; it could be dangerous to insist. That was something related to the atmosphere.

What is needed is a structured process ensuring genuine two-way communication between technical standards bodies and the legal community. In the long term, this should entail collaboration between law schools and professional legal associations, on the one hand, and the Internet-related technical community on the other. This effort must also be genuinely transnational, including both legal and policy experts from a variety of countries, if it is to achieve the goal of minimizing monitoring and compliance costs. Such dialogue could take a number of forms, including: enhanced focus on the nature and social implications of Internet technologies both in law school curricula and in professional continuing education; training seminars on legal and public policy issues for technologists involved in standard-setting processes; and liaison arrangements institutionalizing opportunities for two-way consultation between the judiciary and the technology community on issues of mutual concern. These efforts could be fostered and facilitated by a range of international actors (independently or in collaboration), including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Law Commission and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Internet Governance from the Bench – the need for greater dialogue between the legal community and technical standards bodies to improve and strengthen internet governance.

President Benigno Aquino signed the law in September last year, amid huge online protests, to stamp out cybercrimes such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography. But opponents swiftly sued over provisions that authorise heavy prison terms for online libel and give the state powers to shut down websites and monitor online activities. The court in October issued a four-month injunction that was to have lapsed this week, as it scrutinised the law for possible violations of constitutional provisions on freedom of expression. De Lima did not say how long the new injunction would be in force and Supreme Court officials declined to comment. Aquino spokesman Ramon Carandang said the government acknowledged the public’s concerns. He noted that even its chief lawyer, Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza, had publicly acknowledged that shutting down websites may be illegal.

But the unseemly rush to initiate punitive action against Google, Facebook and other sites illustrates our systemic inability to deal with ‘problematic’ content. And our laws only fossilise this intolerance. What is more essential at this stage is an open debate and discussion on these issues instead of rushing towards punitive action or privately sponsored agendas that smack of vendetta or seek to crack down on dissent. Do we have what it takes for an open debate?

The Hoot on India’s tricky relationship with online content

But the unseemly rush to initiate punitive action against Google, Facebook and other sites illustrates our systemic inability to deal with ‘problematic’ content. And our laws only fossilise this intolerance. What is more essential at this stage is an open debate and discussion on these issues instead of rushing towards punitive action or privately sponsored agendas that smack of vendetta or seek to crack down on dissent. Do we have what it takes for an open debate?

The Hoot on India’s tricky relationship with online content