I don’t know how long ago this law was passed, but I just saw this note on Wikitravel:
The Italian government has recently passed a law requiring all public-access internet points to keep records of web sites viewed by customers, and even the customer’s ID. Accessing e-mail service has been also forbidden. However, if you bring your own laptop you should be able to check e-mail, but not avoid ID recording. Hotels providing Internet access are not required to record ID’s if the connection is provided in the guests room, meanwhile if the connection is offered in the main public hall then ID’s are required. Publicly available wireless access is forbidden unless the provider has a special government license. This has caused only major phone-like companies to be able to afford that, so wireless access is generally expensive.
Most travelers are aware that your hotel will want to see your passport – and often keep it overnight – in order to register you with the authorities as a visitor, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. It’s good to know, however, so you don’t feel like every Internet cafe owner is trying to steal your passport when they demand to see it before you’re allowed to log on.
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Photo by: Stijn Nieuwendijk