Italy would like to make ‘RickRolling’ a criminal offense

Rick Astley from the Rick Roll video “Never Gonna Give You Up” in an Italian prison cell

If you've been on the internet for quite a few years, chances are that at one point in your online life, you've been rickrolled. A harmless link from a friend quickly bellows “WE'RE NO STRANGERS TO LOOOOVE”, and you tut and shake your head. But Italy seems to think that rickrolling might actually be a criminal offence, so much so that they're warning young people in what they're referring to as the cybercrime glossary.

Indeed, the Italian Ministry of Justice website has a very long list of possible criminal offences related to the Internet, with Rickrolling a proud member of its bizarre catalogue.

The site describes the process of Rickrolling as "trying to trick someone into clicking on a hypertextual link", adding that it might be akin to fraud or a scam if "the objective is to generate revenue by attracting traffic to a specific website".

Now, surely we know that Mr. Rick Astley (or, well, the company that owns the rights to the song) has profited from the song's never-ending meme popularity, one that seems quite hard to kill off for good. He's even recently played it with Foo Fighters and brought it back at this year's Glastonbury. But, we would be hard pressed to think of a case where a scam involving a classic re-direct could really be defined as "rickrolling".

Among the other possible criminally relevant online conducts, there is one quite notable: hentai. The Italian Ministry of Justice seems to actually define the whole category of Hentai as a "deviant conduct" and featuring "sexual assault" as its main ingredient. Hentai is curiously defined as "a dangerous kind of interactive cartoon where adults and kids can participate in sexual violence by pushing buttons".

Frankly, it is not clear the kind of hentai someone at the ministry has been watching, but it must have been really something else. The website also seems to imply that, if those involved in the "sexual cartoon" are underage, then you might go to jail for several years. We would love to see a judge called to decide if Hatsune Miku or Goku are of legal age to engage in sexual acts.

But still, if you plan to ever trick a very large audience into rickrolling, we might recommend that you first ask their country of origins. In case there's any Italians, you might definitely end up in jail. If you want to be on the safe side, we would recommend swapping that Rick Astley for a much more palatable Luciano Pavarotti.

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