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Berlusconi orders mass SMS election call

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The Italian government is in hot water this morning after spamming every single mobile subscriber in Italy with election information.

Silvio Berlusconi's government recently passed laws to jail spammers and file sharers but obviously excuses itself from the new regulations. Consumer groups including Federconsumatori condemned the mass SMS.

Mobile operators were ordered to send the message to all their subscribers.

The messages were received on Thursday or Friday of last week and appeared to come from Berlusconi's office. It detailed when polling stations were open and what documents you needed to take along to vote in the regional and European elections. But opposition politicians complained the messages were an invasion of privacy and political in intent.

As one irritated Italian mobile subscriber and Register reader points out: "Many the cell phone owners were not even eligible to vote, being either minors or immigrants without citizenship.

"The message itself was an invitation to vote, but the law explicitly forbids any such a message from being sent for anything but extreme danger situations, particularly during the compulsory "silence period" before and during the elections..."

It is believed the Italian government used emergency legislation, "decreto legislativo", to authorise the mass spam.

Anyone caught downloading music, or other copyrighted material, in Italy now faces up to three years in prison. Spam legislation in Italy lays down fines of up to €90,000 and jail time for anyone sending unsolicited messages. ®

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