The Italian government has angered local ISPs and opposition lawmakers by announcing new laws that will require online media providers to obtain official authorization before uploading videos.
The law, which has already been passed and is scheduled to take effect at the end of January, will require online sites to obtain permission from the communications ministry before being allowed to offer videos, IDG said.
The regulations would also give Italian regulators power to order media providers and ISPs to remove content that is determined to be in breach of copyright law. If they do not comply, the companies will face a fine of up to €150,000.
The Italian Association of Internet Providers attacked the regulations, stating that they are akin to “holding the company that maintains the highways responsible for what the drivers do.”
Opposition lawmakers have denounced the new rules – which were slipped into an EU directive on product placement - as a threat to freedom of expression.
Paolo Gentiloni, a member of the opposition Democratic Party, told a press conference that the decree “subjects the transmission of images on the web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the internet currently functions.”
The order would force websites such as local news outlets and mobile TV providers to obtain the same status as television broadcasters, the opposition said.
Bloggers and free speech activists have also spoken out against the edicts.
Google European public policy counsel Marco Pancini meanwhile told Bloomberg that the company is concerned that the plan will put unfair pressure on service providers to police content.
The law “tries to give internet service providers the same responsibilities as television networks, which manage content, while YouTube only makes its platform available” to the general public, he said.
He also suggested that the laws could be an attempt to limit access to YouTube, which is currently embroiled in a court battle with prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset. Mediaset has sued YouTube for copyright infringement, demanding €500 million in damages.
The regulations would also lower the level of advertising allowed per-hour on pay-TV channels, while doubling the limit on Mediaset's free-to-air broadcast channels.