RealTime IT News

Infostrada Feels Bite of Privacy Watchdogs

Infostrada, Italy's second-largest telecom, was forced to temporarily shut down its free ISP service Libero after government watchdogs accused the company of violating national privacy laws.

The alarm was sounded from the office of Stefano Rodota, a government advocate for the rights of private citizens, after an examination of Inforstrada's Libero service contract. According to Rodota, part of the agreement, which allows users to access the information highway without paying an annual subscription, required the disclosure of one's age, health status, sexual habits, as well as political, labor, and religious preferences.

Based on this information, the government office prepared a statement calling the Libero contract unlawful, based on Italian privacy act legislation. In turn, Rodota told reporters that his office will be designing a series of guidelines for Internet services and contracts that will insure companies like Infostrada do not overstep civil rights.

Several Italian telecommunications companies, in addition to Infostrada, are offering no subscription Internet access. Among these are World Online,Kata Web, and Jumpy. Stefano Rodota pointed out that his office is looking into these and all companies offering free Internet services in Italy, to insure they abide by the law.

On their behalf, Infostrada admitted the original contract for Libero service did, in fact, conflict with privacy rules and took immediate action to correct the problem.

It was merely an oversight, a company spokesperson told reporters. The information required was utilized for marketing purposes, as the access for free Internet is compensated by advertising, and not to "spy" on users.