Italy eyes fee, registration for bloggers

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ROME -- Opposition is mounting a proposal in the Italian parliament that would require thousands of active Internet users -- including bloggers and members of network Web sites -- to register with the government and pay a special fee.

Under terms of the proposal, everyone who uses the Internet to disseminate information via an Italian ISP would be required to register with the Ministry of Communications and pay a fee. Those who fail to register could be subject to prosecution under Article 57 of the penal code, the same article used to prosecute journalists for slander.

Political opponents say such a law would be unenforceable, but the local media says it would simply serve as a way to prosecute people who publish unpopular opinions online.

Citizen and student groups, meanwhile, are gearing up to protest the initiative, dubbed the "anti-blogger" law, which they say will limit expression and creativity and move much of Italy's still-growing online economy to nearby countries.
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