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

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.

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