News blackout over Italian wiretap law

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Most Italian newspapers and news bulletins closed down for the day yesterday as journalists went on strike over government plans to ban reporting based on material gained from wiretaps.

Silvio Berlusconi's government says the wiretap law is needed to protect the privacy of individuals from arbitrary investigation. It would restrict the right of prosecutors to plant bugs and record telephone conversations. Journalists would be fined for publishing transcripts of recordings.

But journalists say the law would prevent reporting of corruption allegations.