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CPSR Newsletter Winter 1995


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ALCEI: An Essential Tool for Italian Electronic Citizens

by Bernardo Parrella

CPSR News Volume 13, Number 1: Winter 1995


Italy is rapidly moving toward its own version of the info-highway, including civic networks in Bologna, Milan, and other cities; Olivetti and IBM online services; "traditional" media finally covering the issue, and more. However, many unresolved issues remain. The online community hardly reaches 10,000 people (including users of 600-700 BBSs and a couple of more advanced information systems); the only national phone company (SIP, Societa' Italiana per l'Esercizio Telefonico) still has low-level technology and high tares; current laws against "computer crimes" do not define at all the responsibilities of BBS operators; and concepts like freedom of expression and personal privacy are not even mentioned. Generally speaking, Italian citizens still know little about electronic communications and its potential effects. It is not easy to find information and discussion, online or offline, about such issues as community networking and social responsibility online.

Aiming to fill this gap, last August a group of professionals, journalists, and techno-experts founded ALCEI - Associazione per la Liberta' nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva, Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications. This initiative should help prevent such operations as last May's Fidonet crackdown in which hundreds of BBSs were searched and seized for "software piracy." In fact, as its manifesto states,

This initiative should help prevent such operations as last May's Fidonet crackdown in which hundreds of BBSs were searched and seized for "software piracy".
ALCEI intends to:
  • Monitor, disclose and oppose any behavior aimed at restricting, censoring, or suppressing free circulation of electronic communications and exchange of information and ideas, no matter how controversial
  • Support, encourage, and promote the development and use of electronic communications, in order to enable all citizens to have a voice in the information age
  • Inform and educate the community at large about computer-based communication systems, emphasizing their responsible use and their positive consequences for our society
Along with its contacts in CPSR, EFF, and other international organizations, ALCEI (aka Electronic Frontiers Italy) so far has almost 100 members nationwide. Very soon an inter-systems open forum (also distributed as a mailing list over the Internet) will be online, while the first issue of ALCEI- News and an open letter to Italian sysops are scheduled by the end of this year.

Entirely supported by membership fees, ALCEI's activities are focused on involving different bodies of society (legislators, media, online users, common citizens) in the process of activating electronic democracy in Italy an essential role for the future of the local information highway.

For more information, please contact the author or send email to ALCEI at

Bernardo Parrella, ALCEI Board Member and U.S. correspondent to Agora' Telematica, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Me can be reached at


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