Free wi-fi in Italy

Story 1: My parents recently returned from a trip to the Greek islands. We’ve been able to arrange a Skype video chat nearly every night at aperitif time: every bar had a free wifi connection. Every bar.

Story 2: my friend Gianfranco Chicco recently returned from a 6 month stay in Amsterdam (he’s the PICNIC conference marketing manager) and his main problem in Milan (!!) was to find open wifi networks (let me stress it: not FREE networks. OPEN. He was ready to pay for a connection.

How could you explain this?

Please meet the 2005 Pisanu Act: an Italian law, approved just after Al Quaeda massacres in London and Madrid, to avoid terrorists to use internet (cafes) to prepare similar attacks in Italy. Basically in Italy you cannot provide internet access to people that haven’t been officially (e.g. via an ID card)¬†identified (you can read the complete law – in Italian – here); you can imagine how this have strongly limited the public wifi offering.

The Pisanu Act is going to end its effects on December 31st, 2009 and the risk is that its end is going to be posponed for the third time; blogger and journalist Alessandro Gilioli worked at the so called “Carta dei cento” where he gathered more than 100 italian entrepeneurs, bloggers, innovators, teachers and journalists to ask the Italian Prime Minister and the main politics (from both the wings of the Italian Parliament) to free the wifi.

I’m really honoured to be one of the 100 signers. Thankyou Alessandro!

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