One of the Emperor’s Chamberlains has decided that it is time to muzzle the blogosphere or, at the very least, to ensure that only the very rich can partake. These can be the only conclusions which it would be reasonable to draw from a draft law being proposed by the Italian government of Romano Prodi, erstwhile President of the EU Commission.

Italian comedian Bepe Grillo has helpfully alerted the world to this singular act of suppression of free speech in his blog. The proposal has to be read to be believed.

Perhaps the most charitable inference is that this is a wheeze to squeeze some more money out of a society notoriously reluctant to pay taxes but it smells much more of a government which wishes to act now to control freedom of speech and the medium itself before this nasty habit of speaking out freely becomes infectious and everybody starts acting like he or she is their very own Republic. Whatever next? The Little People might want to have a referendum on the Constitution.

Whatever the motive, given the likely effect of this piece of authoritarianism, it is the duty of all to bring it to the widest possible attention that we might shame Prodi into withdrawing the draft law. So please, cover this in your own blog if you have one.