Foreign blogs cannot ignore local courts

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The Italian Supreme Court held in relation to a foreign blog where articles inciting to racial hatred were posted that the crime of racist criminal organization and the jurisdiction of Italian courts were applicable if the offence is perceived by the users located in Italy.

The case related to a blog set up in the US and hosted on a server located abroad whose purpose was to attract followers of racist ideas, incite to racist actions in the Italian territory, collect funds for the initiative and express opinions on persons and events against anyone supporting immigration and the principles of equality.

The Italian Supreme Court held that:

  • the crime of criminal organization aimed at supporting racist beliefs was triggered also by conducts performed on virtual social communities such as chat rooms and social networks,
  • since the offended persons were located in Italy, Italian courts had jurisdiction on the crime,
  • the blogger could not rely on the cositutional freedom of speech and association since such freedoms are restricted when used to incite to discrimination and
  • the requirements of stability and organization of a website meet those of a criminal organization if illegal conducts are performed through it.

This is a very interesting decision since persons involved in criminal conducts will not be able to rely anymore on the ubiquity of the Internet as a defence for crimes performed through the Internet. It would be also interesting to see whether a similar approach is followed in other jurisdictions.