Italy’s internet, and the way it is sanctioned and overseen, does not really support internet freedom. The way it is sanctioned and censored – combined with the fact that most of Italy’s media industry rests in the hands of few people – means that Italy’s internet is more easily exploitable than other that of other countries, both from a legal and an economic perspective. In fact, it is exploited. Roughly since Silvio Berlusconi’s political career began in the early 90s, the internet has more and more been used as a tool to fill Italy’s and its media affiliates’ purses. With selective notions of internet content allowed even for insiders, the country is not the best place to browse in.
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Using a Italian IP
There is only one advantage of using Italy’s IP addresses: you get access to content restricted outside of the country’s borders. This includes the vast majority (if not all of mainstream) media and especially the online content distributed by Silvio Berlusconi’s media affiliates at Mediaset. Anywhere from regular talk shows to news and sports networks are outside of reach if you are not within Italian borders. Thus, unblocking this content is essential if you wish to view most of Italian online content. In our opinion, VPN services are indeed required for this, especially since Italy’s internet freedom shows no sign of improvement in the near future. The other way around is similarly less advantageous: the country is less open to introduce foreign media content.
Italian Online Privacy Laws
The most significant legal document to mention is the anti-terrorism law of 2005 in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist attacks. According to the law, new Wi-Fi hotspots and stations are restricted from opening. Not only does this put a strain on the overall availability of the internet in Italy, but it also indirectly incentivizes the purchase of other, mostly state-controlled forms of internet. The Fiber for Italy project, which intends to spread fiber optic connections across the country, is a testament to this. Apart from this, there are numerous laws sanctioning internet availability in Italy, mostly through direct or indirect censorship.
Internet Censorship in Italy
The Italian television industry is highly influenced by politics. This means that programs aired and even the contents of those programs are subject to change, if found unsuitable. Thus, online television is also involved in censorship. The vast majority of the Italian television business is owned by Silvio Berlusconi. His infamous reputation is an active factor in the censorship of today’s Italian media. Overall, the online press is just as politically sensitive (or rather, selective) as other forms of it.
Italy is also a bad place to go if you search for online books: an embargo is put on turf accountancy that comes from outside the country’s borders. The only forms of gambling accepted are the ones the government allows – these are strictly Italian businesses. Child pornography is censored altogether, understandably. However, P2P solutions and file sharing is similarly less welcome. The Pirate Bay for example, is banned in Italy.
In terms of internet freedom, this means that because Italy’s media ownership is so centralized, the availability of online content is fashioned to this subjective interest. Even if you are an Italian citizen, you will meet a lot of restricted access. There are more than six thousand websites censored in Italy, and this number grows significantly if you are not a resident of the country, or if you are just outside its borders.
Streaming Services in Italy
The local side of Italian streaming availability is again, a bias issue. On the one hand, most content under Mediaset is geoblocked. The vast majority of other media – including radio, sports broadcasts and films – even can be found at various streaming channels on the internet, occasionally in English too. If you are an Italian expat however, we recommend using some way of unblocking as this still represents a minority of what can be found about Italy’s coverage online.
If you are curious about the availability of foreign media content from within Italy, we can’t provide much good news either. Hulu is blocked, and so is Netflix. BBC iPlayer suffers the same fate, but Spotify is good to go if you have a Premium or Unlimited type subscription. Pandora however, is restricted. The general state of stream availability – in line with Italy’s trends of internet freedom – is sparse.
Free Italian VPN Trials
Our conclusion is that in order to experience Italian online content to the fullest extent (which is still censored), a VPN service is recommended. Since there is a good amount of unblocking required to access said content, we would like to advise you to take a look at what ibVPN offers. Their own streaming content unblocking solution, ibDNS, is a unique way of accessing restricted content in a fast and smooth way. Moreover, the company is based in Romania, unaffected by data retention laws. If you are interested in proxy-based solutions, try out IronSocket. Hong Kong is also an interesting place to supply VPN from, and your supply of proxy anywhere from HTTP to SOCKS5 is quite sufficient for Italian web access.