Italian court finds 3 Google execs guilty in online video privacy case

A judge in Milan, Italy, today convicted three Google executives for failure to comply with the Italian privacy code, a turn of events that Google says "attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built." The company says it will appeal the ruling.

The case revolved around a UGC showing students at a Turin school bullying an autistic youth. It was later uploaded to YouTube. But the company says it was taken down after Italian police contacted them just hours later. Google even cooperated with Italian authorities in identifying the students and the woman who uploaded the video.

Nevertheless, four Google employees--David Drummond, Arvind Desikan, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes--were indicted late last year. Drummond, Fleischer and Reyes were convicted.

The ruling, said Google on its blog, "means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload." If the ruling is upheld, Google contends it would mean that every piece on content upoaded to the Internet would have to be approved by YouTube, social networks, even bulletin boards. "The Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear," said Google.

For more:
- see the Google blog
- see this New York Times story

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