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IV. Governance issues


The e-government portal for citizens is currently being reengineered. A new portal will be realised, hardening the search function and implementing new features for rating the quality of on line services.1

Adopted as a Legislative Decree on 7 March 2005 the e-Government Code (Codice dell'Amministrazione Digitale) entered into force on 1 January 2006.2 It aims to provide a clear legal framework for the development of e-Government and for the emergence of an efficient and user-friendly Public Administration.3 Among other things, the Code mandates Public Administrations to: share relevant information by electronic means in order to make life easier for citizens and businesses; make a minimum set of contents and services available on their websites, including a comprehensive organisation chart, an email directory, a list of e-Services, the possibility to download forms, and details on administrative procedures; communicate by email, namely for the exchange of documents and information; accept online payments from citizens and businesses; use the electronic ID card and the National Services Card, as a standard means of granting access to online services.4

The provisions of this Code shall apply in respect of the regulations governing the processing of personal data and, in particular, the provisions of the Data Protection Code. Citizens and businesses are, however, entitled to require that data processing carried out by the Public Administration is consistent with the fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as dignity of the person concerned.5

On 19 February 2010, the Italian Council of Ministers approved the new version of the e-Government Code proposed by the Ministry of Public Administration (PA) and Innovation. Once the approval procedure has been completed, the new Code will be published as a legislative decree.6

The EU Directive 2003/98/EC on the access and re-use of public sector information (PSI) has been implemented with Legislative Decree No. 36 of 24 January 2006, and the Senate was emending it in Autumn 2010 so as to adequately respond to the European Commission's remarks on its infringement procedure from 19 March 2009. PSI can be re-used in many perspectives, i.e., not only to create added-value services but to improve public choices (e.g. e-governance) and to allow citizens to take part to public choices as well (e.g. e-democracy). Although the EU Directive subordinates the processing and re-use of PSI to the provisions of Directive 1995/46/EC on the protection of personal data, most of the time access and re-use of PSI concerns information such as geographic and meteorological data, museums, and local archives metadata, land register data, and the like. Nevertheless, the Garante has recently addressed the re-use of PSI by private companies involving personal data on 26 March 2010.7 On that occasion, the Garante has granted the right to collect and re-use (personal) information already available on public sector websites, excluding a duty to inform the individuals.

Non-government organisations' advocacy work

Electronic Frontiers Italy (ALCEI) has been active since 1994 in several fields.8 A Founding Member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC), ALCEI is also a member of the European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRI). ALCEI's recent activities include challenging in court the legal admissibility of non-computer forensics digital evidence; support media, journalists, and international civil rights NGOs with reliable information on civil rights issues.

The National Association for the Defence of Privacy (Associazione Nazionale per la Difesa della Privacy or ANDIP)9 and the Italian Institute for Privacy10 promote different activities aimed to develop a culture of privacy. They assist the Garante in its awareness-raising activities.

Italy's Big Brother Awards (organised by Privacy International and the Winston Smith Project, in association with 14 other organisations) announced the 2006 winners. The Trusted Computing Group won two awards "thanks" to the privacy implications associated with DRM technologies used to enforce intellectual property rights.11

On 19 May 2007, the 2007 Italian Big Brother Awards were held.12 Telecom Italia received the "People's Complaint" award for its system of illegal eavesdropping of telephone conversations (especially for the aforementioned Tavaroli & Co case before the Tribunal of Milan). The Municipality of Milan won the award "The Worst Public Institution", receiving the prize for having installed several cameras in the city, starting with public parks, without givingany information on who would use the recorded data.13

On 10 May 2008, the 2008 Italian Big Brother Awards were presented during an e-privacy convention in Florence.14 The Ministry of Economics received the "Worst Public Institution" award. The Ministry had been empowered to create mass personal (bank, health, etc.) databases to fight against tax evasion. Yahoo! received the "Worst Private Company" award for providing the Italian Government with the personal data of its Internet users. The DNA Bank of the RIS (the Scientific Investigation Division of the "carabinieri") of Parma received the award for their most invasive technology, which was created "quietly" without any specific normative act. TV journalist Bruno Vespa was awarded the "Boot in the Mouth" prize for having dealt superficially with, and therefore misinforming people about, the Internet and new technologies. Franco Frattini, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the lifetime award for having spread an idea of security that involves "monitoring and censoring dangerous words."15

On 23 May 2009, the 2009 Italian Big Brother Awards went mostly to Facebook, which won three awards: "Worst private company", "Most invasive technology" and "People's Choice".

In 2010 Mr. Berlusconi received the "Neo-speech and Encore Thought" award, Facebook was awarded for "Lifetime Menace," "The Most Invasive Technology," "Worst Private Company," and, last but not least, "People’s Complaint."16 Facebook sets a new record in the annals of the Big Brother Awards, both Italian and International.

International obligations and International cooperation

Italy has signed and ratified the 1966 UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to its First Optional Protocol that establishes an individual complaint mechanism.17

Italy is a member of several organisations that influence the country's treatment of privacy and personal data. Most notably, Italy is part of the Council of Europe (CoE) and has signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5).18 It has signed and ratified the CoE's Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108).19 In addition, Italy signed and ratified the CoE's Convention for Cybercrime.20

Italy is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and has adopted the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.

However, as suggested by both the Italian Garante and the other European Data Protection Authorities over the last few years, further international and transnational provisions seem urgently necessary.21