After the UK Guardian opened the Prism can of worms, others have been asking themselves if their governments have also been covertly snooping on private communications between citizens. One such person is Italian lawyer and internet law specialist Fulvio Sarzana.
In a recent entry on his blog, Sarzana claims that not only does Italy have a Prism equivalent, but that Italy’s Prism is far more insidious than the NSA’s super snooping system.
Curiously, Italy’s government passed Prism-type legislation rather soon after then prime minister Mario Monti returned from a trip to the USA earlier this year.
The suitably sci-fi sounding “Directive laying down guidelines for the protection of national cyber security” (text in Italian) law came into being in late March 2013 and although the new law was not deliberately hidden from public eyes, its passing was kept very low key indeed. In fact, few people in Italy probably new such a law had come into existence.
What kind of information can Italy’s security services obtain?
The answer is just about anything and everything.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
The Italian law obliges telecommunications operators and internet service providers to hand over their databases. And it goes even further: anyone who manages airports, dams, energy and transport services also has to give security services unhindered access to their databases. All the security services need to say to justify such access is that its is required for “security purposes”. Very vague.
A court order is not required to access databases either. If someone high up decides information is necessary, it has to be handed over. That access of this nature is not subject to a court order is unprecedented in Italy according to Sarzana.
So there you have it – not only does Italy have its very own Prism, it’s a Prism on steroids.
Although seemingly unrelated, it is starting to look as if the UK’s intelligence services has been receiving data mined by the NSA’s Prism system. If the UK has been receiving bespoke information from the NSA, then it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that other nations, such as Italy, having been receiving Prism reports too. And, of course, other Prism type systems have probably been providing information to the NSA.
Now where did I put my tin foil hat? 😉
Prism image by D-Kuru from Wikimedia Commons