In April, CIE’s director Dr Andre Oboler, travelled to Italy to address a hearing of the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Inquiry into Antisemitism. The committee combines the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Parliament, and as a result of the committees work, including the hearing Dr Oboler appeared at, the Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday took steps towards further criminalisation of online hate. These steps include applying the law to cases where the content is hosted outside the country.
The invitation for Dr Oboler to appear before the committee came from the committee chair, Dr Fiamma Nirenstein, who is a global leader in the fight against antisemitism. Fiamma Nirenstein today released a statement (reproduced below) which states that as a result of the committee’s work during 2010, the Italian Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs acted yesterday to unanimously approve a resolution that commited the government to sign the Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The additional protocol is specifically related to the criminalisation of internet hate crimes. Ratification will allow Italian investigators to apply existing laws to Internet based material hosted outside the country.
CIE commends Dr Nirenstein for her dedication to combatting antisemitism in general, and online antisemitism in particular. Her impact has been felt not only in Italy where she has secured concrete improvements, but also globally through her role on the steering committee of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism and through the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism. Her support for the CIE project, including introductions between CIE’s Director and various political leaders at these important conferences, has enabled us to increase our global impact and significantly influence the global debate on online antisemitism. We congratulate Dr Nirenstein on this latest achievement in the battle against online hate. Her leadership has been simply inspirational.
The statement from Fiamma Nirenstein is reproduced below.
Resolution to contrast online antisemitism approved by Italian Foreign Affairs Committee
Statement by Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Committee for the Inquiry into Antisemitism, Italian Chamber of Deputies
Rome, December 15, 2010
“Yesterday the Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously approved a resolution that aims to counteract the spread of anti-Semitism (currently experiencing a sharp increase) through the Web, along with xenophobia in general.
This resolution actually sees the Government committed to signing an Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which regards crimes of racist and xenophobic nature committed through computerized systems. The Protocol allows investigators to coordinate their actions internationally when they make inquiries into this type of offence, thereby making it easier to apply abroad an existing Italian law on countering racial, ethnic and religious discriminations. In fact, it is difficult to apply this law when investigations are halted by restrictions of a territorial nature, or when the websites spreading propaganda of hatred – and this is often the case – are on foreign servers. With the adoption of this Protocol, it will be possible to move beyond the limitations of our borders.
I am truly pleased with this result, which is an indicator of the common goal of the Italian parliament to fight the worrying spread of online anti-Semitism, a phenomenon to which the Inquiry Committee on Anti-Semitism, which I chair, has dedicated two of its sessions. The Observatory on Anti-Semitism created by the Contemporary Jewish Documentation Centre (CDEC) notes in its new report issued in the last days that, from 2007 to 2010, Italian websites “with significant anti-Jewish content” have almost doubled compared to the previous four-year period. Whilst the Ministry of Interior’s figures show that 800 pages with anti-Jewish content were recorded in 2008 (including websites, social networks and discussion groups), in 2009 there were 1,200 and in 2010 they have increased still further.
Today’s result is the outcome of careful and thorough work conducted throughout 2010 by the Inquiry Committee on Anti-Semitism, which sees the joint participation of the Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committees. Yesterday the Government confirmed in front of the Committee its will to sign the Protocol, in order to proceed with parliamentary ratification as soon as possible”.