Italian Wikipedia Unhidden After Voluntary Takedown

By: Qichen Zhang on 17 October 2011
Posted in Italy, Europe

The Wall Street Journal reports that Wikipedia's Italian website has become available again after a three-day takedown by Wikipedia itself. Blocked as a protest against a proposed wiretapping bill taken to the Parliament, the website, the website was restored last Thursday after international media reported on Wikipedia's protest of a legislative proposal laced with censoring behavior. Called DDL intercettazioni [Wiretapping Act], the law if passed would require corrections to complaints about content "detrimental to image" within 48 hours. In response, Wikipedia highlighted the severe damages the law would incur and that could possibly bring down the organization:

Amendments to the law have been proposed but a modification of the draft has not yet been approved definitively. We therefore do not know if approval of the original draft has been scrapped, an approval that would cancel out all of Wikipedia's work.

The site apparently hoped to demonstrate the possibible ramifications of such a law by implementing a takedown of their own, and the effects were far-reaching. According to a Lebanese news site, Italy's Wikipedia portal hosts upwards of 800,000 entries, none of which were available during this period. When users visited the page during the takedown, they faced an explanation in Italian that included the following message: "As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced by Law to actually delete it."

"If that sounds vague, broad, and onerous, that’s because it is," TechCrunch's Devin Coldewey wrote about the proposal. According to the bill, which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has supported and has claimed to be in the best interests of private citizens, anyone not complying to this stipulation would be forced to pay 12000 euros in fines.