Leading Italian Lawyer Calls For A Crackdown On “Fake News” In The European Union

Freedom_of_SpeechWe have been discussing the crackdown on “fake news,” including my view that this has become the latest rationale for various countries to rollback on free speech. Now Italy has has joined this ignoble list of Western countries using the ill-defined problem of “fake news” to justify the criminalization of speech and regulation of the Internet. Giovanni Pitruzzella, head of the Italian Competition Authority (an anti-trust body), has called for a crackdown by the European Union.


Pitruzzella uses the catchy new phrase of “post-truth” to explain why the West needs to curtail free speech: “Post-truth in politics is one of the drivers of populism and it is one of the threats to our democracies.” It is a telling connection draw by Pitruzzella between that pesky rise of “populism” and the need to criminalize speech. He insists “We have reached a fork in the road: we have to choose whether to leave the internet like it is, the wild west, or whether it needs rules that appreciate the way communication has changed. I think we need to set those rules and this is the role of the public sector.”

It is sad to hear a lawyer and law professor calling for such a curtailment of free speech, but the appeal of such regulation of speech can be irresistible — particularly when people fear the direction of popular movements. Pitruzzella is a full professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Palermo and has been the Chairman of the Italian Competition Authority since November 2011.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has also called for a crackdown.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).

Those figures who have long fought to curtail free speech may have found the perfect vehicle to convince citizens to voluntarily surrender their right to free speech, even celebrate its passing. It is all being done in the name of “truth”, which apparently can only be found on the other side of the criminalization of speech. People like Pitruzzella would give the government the power to decide on what is truth in this “post-truth” world — a dangerous proposition.

35 thoughts on “Leading Italian Lawyer Calls For A Crackdown On “Fake News” In The European Union

  1. Why are we surprised that The Powers That Be want to control the information flow???

    At the start of the war the propaganda role of the Volksempfänger took a more sinister twist. As hostilities broke out between Germany and the Allies in September 1939, listening to enemy radio stations became punishable by a sentence in a concentration camp. All radios sold came with a chilling warning attached to the tuning knob, “Think about this: listening to foreign broadcasts is a crime against the national security of our people. It is a Führer order punishable by prison and hard labour.”

    Later in the war the Gestapo was instructed to execute anyone discovered listening to enemy radio stations, and ran a particularly vindictive campaign where it advertised for sale radios with short wave bands and then arrested and shot anyone who was duped into buying one as a traitor. Officially the only people who were allowed to listen to foreign broadcasts were the SS and Abwehr (army intelligence) for intelligence purposes and members of the Nazi Party who were given special permission to use more powerful radios to listen out for and disown Allied propaganda.

    Of course, unofficially many Germans took the risk, especially those who owned more powerful pre-war radios, and listened to Allied radio in secret. As the war progressed, the Reich Broadcasting Corporation was severely censored and was not allowed to discuss even the slightest hint that Germany was losing the war, even as late as 1944 when Germany was being hammered by air raids and the Allies were attacking the Reich on both sides. In addition to Luftwaffe pilots, who often tuned into the BBC and American forces stations as a form of light relief from the endless propaganda and volkische music on German stations – at least the Gestapo could not arrest you in the air – concerned German citizens, anti Nazis and many servicemen whose lives depended on accurate news decided that the risk was worthwhile by tuning into Allied broadcasts to find out how Germany was really faring.

    Even the humble Kleine Volksempfänger was not as weak as the Nazis would have liked. All versions came with long wave, which meant that, if you understood English or Russian, the BBC or Radio Moscow could be picked quite easily after dark, and many who wanted to hear how the war was really progressing increased the power of a Volksempfänger by inserting makeshift wire aerials in the back or increasing the sensitivity of the set. ( The Allies also set up anti-Nazi propaganda stations in German such as People’s Radio. ) One soldier stationed in Austria in 1944, who regularly listened to People’s Radio recalled, as his commanding officer was explaining that the Allies had landed in Normandy “Our officer had been explaining the Allies strategies and the possible options for cutting Normandy off from the rest of France. Suddenly one of my comrades said, “It’s already happened.” After a few seconds, the officer asked,” How do you know that- the OKW (army high command) has not announced this”. No explanation was necessary: we sat there like sodden, wet dogs.” Fortunately the soldiers hid the makeshift aerial before the officer examined the set and they escaped certain death as the officer could not prove where the information had come from.

    However, loyalty to the Nazi regime and a fear of being caught persuaded millions of others that listening to broadcasters other than the Reich Broadcasting Corporation was too much of a risk. There was always a chance of being informed on to the Gestapo if you talked about a news item that deviated from the official radio line. Even as late as April 1945, when the Allies were surrounding Berlin and Hitler was hiding in the Bunker, Berlin Radio, broadcasting from the shattered ruins of the city, was still declaring that Germany was soon to win a historic battle against the Allies, and Goebbels defiantly told listeners that the course of war was turning in Germany’s favour on Hitler’s birthday, April 20th. As the Allies smashed through the remains of Germany in 1945, many Germans, until they saw Allied soldiers arrive in their towns and cities, had been unaware that Germany was losing the war. It was not until Berlin Radio announced that Hitler was dead that many Germans were finally convinced the war was lost. The Volksempfänger had played its part in deceiving and intimidating millions of Germans throughout the war.

    https://www.transdiffusion.org/2008/01/07/hitlers_radio

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. That fruit who heads up France pays 1800 a month for his haircuts. Someone needs to give that collection of fruits a “heads up”– if you know what I mean jelly bean. And the dork is named Hollande and he does not hail from the Nederlands.
    I say that we should not disparage the Russian and clump up to the originalists in NATO.

  3. Professor Turley’s post is an excellent article on what is happening on an international scale. For the first time since the triumvirate of modern propaganda came on the scene, news print, radio and television, Western governments are being confronted by a population that suddenly has the means to hear, to reseaarch and to asses the facts for themselves.

    The emperor is suddenly subject to being naked; to having the usual gate keepers of truth unceremoniously ripped off his court, his life and his decisions. Control is lost, and let’s face it; it’s damned embarrassing for what ever little twaddle is parading around at the time to have one and all, laughing and pointing at his misery, his total betrayal of his constituents for the benefit of a few robber barons.

    • And the main stream media, speaking of streams, has lost it’s ability to make people pay for the propaganda they consume. This in itself is viewed as a real danger since making people pay for something deceptive (as many a journalist knows rather uncomfortably) was a very strong incentive for them to believe it was worth something. Now, when a corporation such as The Guardian keeps hounding me for contributions, I look for a comment section (and of course there is none under this subject) to ask them why it is that they are not paying me to swallow such garbage.

      UK MSM Motto: Let the politicians we endorse strip you bare sensibly rather than radically.

      Anyway, they are none to happy about loosing their revenue stream on top of their credibility.

  4. The real problem with “fake news” aren’t little gossips that begin in someone’s basement as he types on the internet.

    It’s the government propaganda pieces dodging responsibility.

    They’re angry at Wikileaks, which was not “fake news” at all. It was factual, embarrassing news, uncovered by either a leak or hacking, depending on the topic. It left the perpetrators red-faced, because they could no longer deny their bad acts. The omnipresent threat of hacking and leaks is the very reason why Hillary Clinton’s flagrant disregard of the laws governing the handling of classified information put us all at risk.

  5. Those who promote censorship are promoting government propaganda. You’ll notice they’re not calling for the prosecution of the really good fake news, like “if you like your plan you can keep it”, or “like with a cloth or something.”

    We already have libel and slander laws which provide some protection against malicious intent. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, and do your research.

  6. The Allies helped ‘liberate’ Italy during WWII, all right.

    Globalists/liberals cannot succeed in the marketplace of ideas.
    They therefore seek to control the narrative, as in this example.

    I second what DSS said; it’s time for Italy to bow-out of the EU, too.
    “Juncker”: good name for that guy (please excuse the ad-hominem).

    It sure is a terrible blow to one’s ego when “your baby” is going down in flames, huh, EU?

    • Italexit would be great,but I don’t see it happening. I had high hopes for Austria but they elected a globalist. Germany has been reduced to a vassal state so no hope there. And those states have strong economies! Italy is too fractured and poor to leave IMO.

      I’m even wondering: will the Brits really get to Brexit?

  7. Time for Italexit.

    The source of much of what ails us (in this country and abroad) is a Bourbon class protected by various sorts of tenure and high barriers to entering their section of the labor market. It’s time to start the artillery barrages on their safe spaces.

  8. Just as we cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded auditorium when there is no fire, as former UFO Investigator for the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies, every day now some new controversial event is occurring in the Antartic, that would be next to impossible to verify by otherwise respected news sources. Often it is ‘shaded’ using environmental overtones and many of us professionals have simply had it.

    I can’t and won’t spend hours trying to second source if passenger ships were almost overturned by extremely rough waves generated by massive UFOs breaking out from underwater bases that then seem to cause mild panics in parts of Argentina, Chile, etc.

  9. Italian Consulaire or Consigliere fake news unraveled. Life expectancy is unknown.

    Joe Valachi mentions a mysterious “Sandino” arbitrating disputes as the Genovese family consigliere in the 1940s. But in more recent times, consiglieri have tended to take a more active role in family affairs. In 1971, Colombo family Consigliere Joseph Yacovelli directed a murder campaign against renegade Colombo family soldier Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo. Two decades later, another Colombo consigliere, Carmine Sessa, led a hit team that attempted to assassinate the acting boss, Victor Orena.

    In 1976, Frank Bompensiero was appointed consigliere of the Los Angeles crime family, only to be murdered in a public phone booth in February 1977; Bompensiero’s boss had promoted him so that it would cause him to let his guard down. Electronic surveillance in 1979 recorded New England Mafia Boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca talking about appointing his consigliere, so the position need not be chosen as a result of a consensus-seeking process.

  10. WaPo is one of the leading fake newz producers. Bezos is such a tool. “Speaking to RT, a former member of the British MI5 intelligence agency, Annie Machon, said that rolling out with a bright headline and later issuing a correction is part of the Washington Post’s tactics.

    “Time after time after time, we are seeing this fake news coming out in the Washington Post,” she said. “And every time they put these fake stories out they have to put [out] a disclaimer afterwards. But of course, the seed is then sown,” Machon said.”

    https://www.rt.com/usa/372448-washingtonpost-retracts-russian-hackers/

    • People need to start questioning anything and everything that comes out of the main stream media, particularly, but not exclusively, when it is the talking points of the government.

      Obviously some areas of both these entities tend to be more reliable than others, but when it comes to exceptional assertions such as Russian hacking of our electoral system, we need to be skeptical, if not downright cynical, at the very minimum. And further, we need to guard against swallowing their fake news simply because it supports our own tribal biases. Democrats have fallen into this hole like lemmings since Hillary’s coronation was suddenly called off, and we have witnessed the proof over the last two months right here by otherwise perfectly normal and quite intelligent people. Unfortunately, they are not alone.

    • When the WaPo and other news outlets report that the Obama admin has retaliated against Russia for “hacking the US presidential election” – isn’t that ‘fake news’? Russia did not ‘hack the election’ – whatever that means. This wording is intended to manipulate weak-minded Americans into questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s election. Trump won decisively, but this fake news narrative serves the purpose of sewing doubt. The only thing we need to know about fake news is what is the legal recourse for victims who can demonstrate harm due to publication of so-called fake news.

  11. The fake news police thought Orwell was a proponent of controlling information. They’re stupid. Here’s a GREAT myth, that liberals are smart. Certainly some are. But, as a collective; liberals have, over my lifetime, gone from free speech and free thinking to speech control and group think. In our country, their Joe McCarthy Russian obsession is fascinating and creepy.

    Regarding this Italian. We should look to Italy for many things, but the law/govt. is not one of them.

    • Excellent point(s) Nick. I love bella Italia – nice people, good food, beautiful landscape, art, etc. but a functioning government has never been their strength.

      Also, re Liberals – I learned so much during this election season. The majority of my Liberal friends are like cultists – partisan ueber alles. Facts simply don’t matter to them and is ironic how they focus their ire on Russia now.

      • Autumn, I went to school in the 60’s. I was a Democrat and fairly liberal. Never got into the hating the military anti-Vietnam schtick, however. Free speech was a major tenet of young liberals and I loved that aspect of the movement. Those liberals have now morphed into thought/speech police. I’m still a free speech.

        Regarding Russia. The Obama administration and Dems did NOTHING when Russia invaded Crimea and then shot down a commercial airliner over the Ukraine. But, someone steals stupid John Podesta’s password and we’re going to DefCon 4 and expelling diplomats!

        • Nick, thanks to this blog I found about about SJWs – like many people I was totally unaware of the insane things going on at colleges/universities. Even now when I tell folks the youth are being indoctrinated they think I am exaggerating. I have watched several videos by Dr. Jordan Peterson – the Canadian prof who is being demonized because he continues to speak out. I think he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown unfortunately – one can only withstand so much pressure.

          Russia – these idiots know nothing about the situation – all they know is that their Queen was dethroned – never mind the content revealed by Wikileaks and the fact that is was a leak not a hack.

          I found this video interesting:

          VFP (Veterans for Peace) member Regis Tremblay recently visited Russia to film for his upcoming documentary, “Thirty Seconds to Midnight”. He decided to make an off-shoot short doc from the film taken there.

          This 39 minute documentary, “Je Suis Russia,” is a counter-narrative to the U.S. and western media lies and propaganda about Russia and President Putin. He interviewed ordinary Russians, educators, former military officers, activists, students, and even members of the Communist Party.

        • Cherry picking what to believe from the MSM is risky at best and downright dangerous even before we get to the worst case. Russia did not invade Crimea. That is public knowledge. And there is still no solid proof and zero motive that would explain what the Russians stood to gain by shooting down MH17. On the other hand, there was plenty of motive for Ukraine to shoot it down and blame the Russians.

          Both of these incidents have been covered ad-nausea by both the main stream media and alternate media. Alternate media almost invariably concludes both 1) Crimea was repatriated by a fair vote of the Crimean public and that Russia never “invaded” anything and 2) that MH17 was most likely brought down by the Ukrainian coup government.

          Alternate media also questions the reliability of the government propaganda about Russian involvement in hacking the Clinton emails to influence the election in favor of Trump (with – gasp – the truth about DNC cheating during the primaries). Main stream media universally accepts total lack of actual evidence as proof positive of Russian involvement, or more accurately, they regurgitate the talking points fed to them by the current administration. Alternate media invariably state that exceptional charges need exceptional levels of proof and that so far all the intelligence agencies have offered are, Maybe, andperhaps, andpossibly , andit’s likely as levels of certainty regarding the points of origin for the hacking. They invariably question why a powerful and sophisticated country such as Russia would leave so many “cyber” finger prints all over the place and so on. And so on. And so on.

          It is unfortunate to see those who will accept the latest alternate media challenge to the establishment story-line but (one must assume for pure ideological reasons) will swallow other establishment propaganda wholesale and without skepticism just as the Dems are now swallowing wholesale the increasingly absurd notion that Russia hacked Clinton’s emails and must be punished for telling what is obviously the truth, the DNC cheated and so did HIllary, and nothing but the truth, to the American people.

          • That is public knowledge is too strong a term. Indeed, a majority of Americans from both sides of our duopoly still believe the Russians attacked Crimea, but that is only testament to the power of our propaganda.

            Rather, that knowledge (that the Crimean people voted, in a fair process, to request repatriation) is publicly available by alternate media. A simple search (I would suggest DuckDuckGo.com) will provide enough information to, at a bare minimum, cast strong doubt on the establishment story line that Russia attacked Crimea.

            • BB – are you Russian? ha ha couldn’t resist. Ukraine was a neo con / neo lib plot for sure – just look at all those who have/are benefitting: Monsanto, Uncle Joe Biden’s son, Victoria Nuland,

              It’s totally twisted that the former “breakbasket” of the former USSR has been forced to accept Monsanto by the IMF.

              https://sputniknews.com/blogs/201604131037839303-ukraine-monsanto-imf/

              Also, as far as I know there is little coverage about NATO moving to Russia’s borders. Obama / HRC / Kerry et al have been poking the bear for eight years now.

              Curious —what “alternate sites” do you consider overall reliable?

              • Not Russian, even going back a long way. Not even Communist, for the benefit of Joe McCarthy Donna Brazile 🙂

                There is nothing particularly original in my approach.

                While I have some sites that I read more than others, the only thing I find reliable is comparisons of facts over time and among different sources, common sense, and skepticism. Who benefits? The most? Who has been caught lying about these sorts of things before? The Washington Post, for instance, seems to have become almost a physical extension of the White House current administration. Closer examination, indicates they are an extension of any neoliberal and neoconservative administration, which includes a pretty broad sweep of our current crop of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

                It strikes me that over the last 15 years, politicians have become more and more comfortable with ever more blatant lies that can only be “gotten away with” for shorter and shorter periods of time. This last one is a real pip. But the message I take away is simply not to accept anything they say at face value.

                If I can’t check and verify over multiple sites, by common sense, by obvious interest, then I leave it in the unanswered bucket for another time.

              • One specific site I would recommend is Naked Capitalism. Their comment section has some very articulate contributors and each day, besides their regular posts, they provide a Links post where the conversation in the comments section touches upon most issues of the day and particularly those in the links. Very informative. The originator of that site, Yves Smith (her pseudo name), is quite remarkable in her ability to discern the truth of a particular issue, especially as it unfolds (such as the problems Greece has been having with the Troika).. Often times, it’s not fake news that is the real culprit, but well meaning people (or less well meaning) that are quite convincing but also quite wrong, or worse yet, subtly wrong. Yves is remarkable at focusing on the real issues of such news and ferreting out fact from bias or fiction. The site is ostensibly about economics, and many posts are indeed on that subject, but the range is really very broad and, needless to say, economics tends to be at the center of most of the problems that we are living through. Heavy sledding at times, always interesting.

                Your sites, Autumn, are also always interesting. Jimmy Dore has an amazing knack at hitting nail on head again and again and again for instance.

                • She’s made a number of bad calls, so I would not trust her as a prognosticator. See, in particular, her commentary in the fall of 2008 and winter of 2008 / 09. See also her later commentary on the MERS mess. Also, for some peculiar reason, she elected to make a personal attack on Megan McArcle (including attacking McArdle’s father).

                  • Yves understands MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc) (and the intentional misuse of it by the large mortgage servicing companies) better than you ever will and her articles on it were superb. You have a strong neoliberal and neoconservative bias. Yves has neither. Also, she has worked for large financial firms and has intimate knowledge of how they work.

                    But regardless of any of that, I would suggest anyone interested should go and judge for themselves.

  12. If you are a professor of constitutional law in Italy then what constitution does y’all have there in Ital?
    Bill of Rights?

  13. If politicians have to be honest, they will all end in jail. So, does the newspaper reporting on the politician become liable for the speech of the politician?

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