Chris Williams 
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi said today that he would use his country’s imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to “regulate the internet”.
Speaking to Italian postal workers, Reuters reports Berlusconi said: “The G8 has as its task the regulation of financial markets… I think the next G8 can bring to the table a proposal for a regulation of the internet.”
Italy’s G8 presidency begins on January 1. The role is taken by each of the group’s members in rotation. The holder country is responsible for organising and hosting the G8’s meetings and setting the agenda. Italy’s last G8 presidency in 2001, also under Berlusconi, was marred by riots at the annual meeting in Genoa.
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Berlusconi didn’t explain what he meant by “regulate the internet”, but the mere mention of it has prompted dismay among Italian commentators. Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.
The left-wing newspaper L’Unita wrote: “You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia.”