Wikipedia Italy Shuts to Protest Press Curbs

'Idiotic' law would require websites to publish corrections after any complaint
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2011 2:00 AM CDT
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is trying to crush freedom of the press, his critics say    (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

(Newser) – Wikipedia shut down its Italian-language version for two days this week to protest a law widely seen as an attempt to spare Silvio Berlusconi embarrassment by muzzling the press and online criticism. The law, currently being debated in Italy's parliament, would require websites to publish a correction within 48 hours if named people or institutions complain about content "detrimental to their image," the Independent reports. Websites would have no way of appealing the complaint.

The law, described as "idiotic" by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, would also jail journalists for up to three years if they publish information from police wiretaps that is deemed irrelevant. In wiretaps recently published in the Italian press, Berlusconi boasts of having had sex with eight women in one night—and describes German Chancellor Angela Merkel as an "unf***able fat-ass." Wikipedia's stand against the law appears to have won it a partial victory, Slate reports. Italian lawmakers have amended the bill so that it only applies to large news websites, exempting blogs and Wikipedia.

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