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Want to check your e-mail in Italy? Bring your passport.

An antiterror law makes Internet cafe managers check their clients' IDs and track the websites they visit.

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Looking out over the cobblestone streets of Rome's Borgo Pio neighborhood, Maurizio Savoni says he's closing his Internet cafe because he doesn't want to be a "cop" anymore.

After Italy passed a new antiterrorism package in July, authorities ordered managers offering public communications services, like Mr. Savoni,to make passport photocopies of every customer seeking to use the Internet, phone, or fax.

"This new law creates a heavy atmosphere," says Savoni, his desk cluttered with passport photocopies. He is visibly irritated, as he proceeds to halt clients at the door for their ID.

Passed within weeks of the London bombings this summer, the law is part of the most extensive antiterror package introduced in Italy since 9/11 and the country's subsequent support of the Iraq war.

Though the legislation also includes measures to heighten transportation security, permit DNA collection, and facilitate the detention or deportation of suspects, average Italians are feeling its effect mainly in Internet cafes.

But while Italy has a healthy protest culture, no major opposition to the law has emerged.

Before the law was passed, Savoni's clients were anonymous to him. Now they must be identified by first and last name. He must also document which computer they use, as well as their log-in and log-out times.

Like other owners of Internet cafes, Savoni had to obtain a new public communications business license, and purchase tracking software that costs up to $1,600.

The software saves a list of all sites visited by clients, and Internet cafe operators must periodically turn this list into their local police headquarters.

"After 9/11, Madrid, and London, we all have to do our utmost best to fight terrorism," says a government official who asked not to be named.

Italy claims that its new stance on security led to the arrest of Hussein Osman, also known as Hamdi Issac - one of the men behind the failed bombing of the London underground July 21.

"Hamdi was well known to our security people and had relatives here with whom he communicated, in some form," says the government official in an e-mail interview.

But Silvia Malesa, a young Internet cafe owner in the coastal village of Olbia, Sardinia, remains unconvinced.

"This is a waste of time," says Ms. Malesa in a telephone interview. "Terrorists don't come to Internet cafes."


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