As it happens with Russia and China, and most recently with Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Italian Senate prepared a rigorous data retention law for Internet Service Providers (ISP) and telecommunication companies functioning in the country.
The subject is the reason for a fierce debate, with the Italian Senate and the European Union (EU), most specifically the Court of Justice of the EU, as the main actors. The latter says that such severe data retention rules are incredibly harsh.
Six years of data retention!
The measure, taken this year and already functioning in Italy, is a severe blow to the online privacy of millions of users in this specific nation. Now, ISPs will be forced to retain users’ data and traffic for a minimum of six years, which sounds like a lot considering that no one should meddle in what you do while you browse the web, as long as you are not affecting anyone.
However, the Italian authorities want to protect their interests and those of the country, so they came up with this questionable decision that left many Italians confused and disappointed. They feel that their right to privacy and anonymity should be respected.
Another article of the Italian Data Protection Code, in addition to the already mentioned six years’ timeframe for regular users/traffic, local internet providers have to keep up to twenty-four months or the equivalent two years for telephone traffic data, one year for electronic communications traffic data, and a month for information that has to do with unsuccessful calls processed on a provisional basis by the providers of publicly available electronic communications services or a public communications network.
Web monitoring and packet inspections threaten your privacy
According to the final document that the Italian Senate passed for review and approval, web monitoring for copyright matters is now part of the legal instrument without previous judicial reviewing. It means that local governors and decision-makers, more specifically the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees (AGCOM), have the right to take down sites without a warrant or judicial note.
Also, the AGCOM acquired more power when it received the ability to make Deep Packet Inspections (DPI) on the internet traffic and data generated by Italian “netizens,” which means that the government can spy on what Italians are searching and visiting in their online sessions.
The obligatory extended period of user’s data retention, and the web monitoring and takedown rights that the AGCOM now holds encountered stiff opposition in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). They say that it is unconstitutional for the Italian authorities to force ISPs and telecom agencies to store data for six years.
In this regard, the organization Privacy International (PI) pointed out in a short message that members of the European Union should make sure that their laws and legal instructions of all kinds comply with what the EU promotes.
However, Italian government and Senate are already enforcing their will, in the form of laws, among their citizens to make sure that ISPs store data and traffic of all Italians for six years despite what the EU says or thinks.
What many people, including some members of the Senate, don’t know is that storing data and traffic for millions of users for such an extended period of time also brings in considerable additional costs for internet service providers, because they have to come up with physical resources and ways to save a gigantic amount of bytes.
VPN to the rescue
Fortunately, Italian netizens have tools to put up a fight against the repeated violations of their online privacy. One of the most efficient ones is setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service with a trustworthy provider.
VPNs are encryption measures taken by users with four intentions: privacy, security, anonymity, and accessibility. Since they hide the users’ IP address, encrypting it and sending it through remote servers along with all the traffic and data generated by the connection, the person using a VPN becomes anonymous on the web.
If you are anonymous, your privacy will increase because few, if any, people or meddlers will be able to see you or your traffic on the web. Remember, you will not use your actual IP address: your VPN will lend you one at your convenience, and you will have the capability to choose one among a list of existing IP addresses, from various countries.
If the government, your ISP, hackers, and other third parties can’t track you, you will be safe online. But here is the best part: VPNs also help you unblock thousands of geographically blocked sites around the world. For example, if you want to enjoy French TV from Italy, all you need is to use your VPN’s ability to connect to a French server, and voila! Tons of online channels and services will become available to you when you want to diversify your taste.
How to protect your online privacy from Italian data retention laws
It is entirely understandable if you want to protect your online privacy from prying eyes, which in this case represent the governmental agencies trying to see what you visit on the web, among other information. To do so, all you need is:
- Get a quality VPN provider to enter sites in Italy with privacy and anonymity.
- Log in to your VPN and launch it.
- Choose a server from a nearby country different than Italy.
- Establish a connection to the selected server.
- Wait a few seconds (usually less than ten) until your device or computer establishes the connection.
- Done! After successful connection, you can navigate through the web anonymously, without having to worry about your traffic being spied on by Italian authorities.
Best VPN for protecting your online privacy from Italian data retention laws
The market is full of VPN clients, but few of them are reliable and accountable. For this specific task, you need to get a service that keeps zero logging of your activity, so even your ISP can’t see what you are doing or visiting while you are online, in addition to robust encryption protocols that make sure your IP address or other critical information does not get leaked.
The best VPN for protecting your online privacy from Italian data retention laws are:
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If security and privacy are what you are looking for, which would be a perfect scenario given the annoying data retention law in Italy, then TorGuard comes in handy. It is not cheap but has robust encryption technologies, acceptable speeds and a top-notch customer service, ready take calls or instant messages at any time.
Private Internet Access (PIA)
If your budget is a little short for IPVanish or TorGuard, then PIA can be a viable alternative. Starting with prices around $4 per month, it is affordable without losing efficiency or connection speed.
IPVanish is one of the best options in the VPN market. It has a strict no logging policy, which suits Italian citizens’ needs to perfection, and some of the fastest speeds, reaching more than 70 Mbps. It also has a DNS leak protection to ensure your IP and DNS settings are all in the right place, a killswitch, and the ability to connect with servers from more than 60 countries.
GhostVPN has 1600 servers in 51 countries, an impressive number considering other VPN options in the market. It keeps absolutely zero logs and implements efficient encryption technologies to make sure your data or IP address does not leak.
In conclusion, Italy is messing with the privacy of its citizens, and they aren’t particularly happy about it. Instead of letting the government taking decisions for them, many users opt for implementing a VPN to protect their online privacy from the harsh data retention laws recently approved.