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Greece plans blogging-crackdown after protests

Greece to curb media-freedoms ahead of unpopular austerity plan, move is said to protect politicians from protester attacks

Reuters , Wednesday 3 Aug 2011
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Greece will tighten its internet and media laws to stem violence against politicians backing a deeply unpopular austerity plan, the justice minister said.

The move follows public warnings by Prime Minister George Papandreou last month that violent protests against spending cuts, pushed through by his government to satisfy international lenders, threatened to derail democracy. 

The austerity required in exchange for a European Union and IMF bailout for debt-ridden Greece has sparked attacks on politicians and bloody demonstrations on the streets of Athens, where hooded youths fought running battles with riot police.

Protesters have often used the internet to coordinate and inform each other of the whereabouts of targeted politicians.

A new law will be drafted making it easier to identify anonymous bloggers, Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou announced in a statement posted on the ministry's website late on Tuesday.

"There will be no more hooded people on the internet," he said, adding: "In the hands of a few, the internet has become a mud-slinging tool to threaten the lives of fellow citizens."

In a bid to quell radical voices in print and TV outlets, Papaioannou also invited media to jointly discuss a set of voluntary rules and to possibly increase the powers of Greece's media regulator.

In future, it will also become easier to use evidence from street cameras against offenders, he said.

"The violence that spread over the past months is undermining democratic institutions," Papaioannou added.

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