If it is so concerned about the online rights of users, as the Google statement about pulling out of China would suggest, maybe it should consider pulling out of Italy next.
Unless of course the China crisis is more to do with commercial failure to dominate an emerging and important online market and less to do with censorship after all. As I may have mentioned before, it is nice to see Google taking a stand but a real shame that it has taken so long for the company to locate its backbone.
Now it has a chance to act a little quicker in Italy, where the Government plans to introduce new rules that will mean anyone wanting to upload video content to the Internet will have to obtain official authorisation from the Communications Ministry in advance. Apparently, and bewilderingly if you ask me, this move is being made to comply with an EU directive concerning product placement in TV broadcasts. Sounds more like a handy way for the Italian Government to restrict what those who disagree with them say online to me, after all it has made no bones about wanting to shut the online opposition up.
One opposition party spokesperson, Paolo Gentiloni of the Democratic Party, would seem to agree. Speaking at a press conference on the issue Gentiloni insisted that the ruling to require prior ministerial authorisation for web videos would be "an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions". Another Democratic Party member, Vincenzo Vita, went even further by suggesting that the move would mean that Italy had joined "the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea".
Even the Communications Authority which would have to help police the new rules seems to think it is a nonsense notion, with one of its commissioners, Nicola D'Angelo, giving a radio interview in which she said it "ran contrary to the spirit of the EU directive" by including web video instead of just TV broadcasts.
Surely Google will have something to say, in the strongest possible terms, if Italy becomes the only western country to effectively censor YouTube in this way? It could be an interesting start to the new year, that's for sure.