Italy drops plans for Internet crackdown


ROME (AP) — Italy has abandoned plans to crack down on Web sites inciting hatred or violence — a proposal floated after an attack on Premier Silvio Berlusconi earlier this month drew some praise over the Internet.

Groups and videos praising Berlusconi’s assailant had appeared on Facebook and YouTube in the aftermath of the Dec. 13 attack, leading officials to mull a ban on hate sites.

But Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said in a statement Wednesday that no measure would be taken by the government.

Maroni, who held a meeting with Internet operators on Tuesday, said he favored “outlining a code of self-regulation that involves all parties and averts the intervention of authorities.”

Such a route would safeguard freedom of expression while removing from the Internet any material that instigates violence or other crimes, the minister said. Details would be worked out in further meetings in coming weeks.

Berlusconi, 73, was attacked during a rally in Milan by a mentally ill man who threw a metal statuette — a replica of Milan’s Duomo cathedral — at him. The attack broke Berlusconi’s nose and two teeth, forcing the premier to be hospitalized for a few days and skip some international meetings.

The man, Massimo Tartaglia, has been arrested.

Berlusconi was quoted by Wednesday papers as saying that he forgives his assailant, though he said he hopes he will not be released from jail too soon as the attack appeared to be premeditated. The comments came in a conference call with members of his party, the reports said.