Italians seeking online information about the European Union could bump into a Web site hosting explicit pornographic images that certainly don't bear the imprimatur of European Commission President Romano Prodi, Italian lawmaker Alessandra Mussolini revealed yesterday.
"Pornographers are using official-sounding names to entrap children. It's extraordinarily grave," Mussolini, a deputy in the Italian parliament for the far right National Alliance, said in a telephone interview.
"I'm extremely worried, because there is no defence against this. There are software programs that will filter out keywords such as 'sex' or 'nude', but they can't do anything against European Union."
Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italy's wartime dictator Benito Mussolini and herself the mother of two young children, has been leading a campaign against child ponography in Italy. She revealed the existence of the bogus European Union Web site - http://www.unioneeuropea.com - in a radio interview on Monday.
"This site is nothing to do with the official European Union Web site and contains explicit pornographic images," said a journalist for state-run RAI radio, who asked not to be named. "We have passed on the complaint to the police."
"I was alerted to the site by a teacher," Mussolini said. "This shows that children can be entrapped at any moment, either at home or at school." The site contains explicit pornographic material, including images of young children, she said. "I saw that the pages open automatically, one after the other. One becomes trapped and the only way out is to switch off the computer," she said.
This is not the first time that pornographers have used an apparently official domain name to spring their wares on unsuspecting cybernauts. The site http://www.whitehouse.com is currently offering soft porn images to visitors.
Mussolini intends to call on Interior Minister Enzo Bianco to order the regular monitoring of Italian institutional domain names to ensure that they are not being used as a vehicle for pornographic material.
She has also requested that the government use the latest generation of computer viruses to destroy the pirate sites, she said.
"It's unacceptable that while television and radio are controlled by the state, Internet remains completely beyond control," Mussolini said. "The state must be given the technical capacity to destroy these rogue sites."