Italy: Politicians, please do not “TWEET” again!


Politicians, please do not "TWEET" again!

In Italy the contents of a “tweet” have recently been examined by a court, indeed by the country’s highest court for administrative law, which issued the judgment no. 769 on 12th   February 2015 in reference to the tweet.
The incident occurred in 2014 and involved the former Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage, some environmental associations and the municipality of La Spezia (a city in the north west of Italy), which had just given permission to a redevelopment project of a square, with a required cutting down of a row of pines.
This project, already authorized by the branch office of the Cultural Heritage Authority and by the Municipality, caused a reaction from environmental associations and citizens, who reported the matter to the Minister of Cultural Heritage. Showing a quite clear disappointment for the branch office’s decision, the Minister immediately reassured the environmental associations and citizens worried about the destruction of the pines by sending them a "tweet", saying that he would as ask the Municipality to suspend works as soon as possible, pending verification of the project by the Ministry.
Consequently the branch office of the Cultural Heritage Authority reversed its decision and, in line with this change of opinion, ordered the Municipality to start a verification process for the "cultural interest" of the project, and continuing to suspend work on the removal of the trees.
That administrative measure was contested by the Municipality, which sued the Cultural Heritage Authority before the Italian Court for Administrative Law; the Municipality asked for the cancellation of the ministerial branch office’s decision, which had clearly been influenced by  the Minister’s "tweet": the Court of first instance ruled in favor of the Municipality and annulled the ministerial act, but not the Minister's tweet because it was considered an "act not open to challenge, but only indicator of abuse of power."
In the second ground, the Italian Supreme Court for Administrative Law confirmed the ruling and - which is more important for our topic - noted that any act of a political authority must still be realized in the typical form of governmental acts, even in the current era of mass communications: "posts", "tweets" and anything similar emerging from new technologies and new ways of communicating can’t work that bit out.
In conclusion, in Italy a Minister's "tweet" is not something relevant towards the final will of a public authority.