For just a few hours, Italian citizens were able to see how much their friends, neighbors, colleagues and bosses declared as taxable income. In early May, officials from Italy's outgoing centre-left government published the tax records of some 38 million Italians for the 2005 fiscal year on the official website of Italy's tax office.
With so many people trying to gain access to the Web pages, the site crashed a few hours later. The tax data was then blocked by the country's privacy watchdog, which launched an investigation to determine whether there had been a violation of Italy's privacy rules. However, the suspension did not stop thousands of people from circulating the information via peer-to-peer file-sharing websites.