A Milan court has convicted three Google Inc executives for the 2006 transmission of a video showing the bullying of a youth with Down's syndrome, the judge in the case told Reuters on Wednesday.
The three were sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of invasion of privacy, the judge said. A fourth executive was found not guilty.
Google wrote on their blog that this is a serious threat to the web in Italy. Google said:
But we are deeply troubled by this conviction for another equally important reason. It attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming. European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.
Clearly, not everyone agrees, and the judge did not agree. No matter who you agree with, this does change Google's stamp in Italy going forward.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.