Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Employees Convicted in Italian Court

The Italian trial of four Google employees has resulted in a conviction of three of the charged individuals. As originally reported on Jurist, the indictment was for criminal defamation; however, subsequent reports noted that the indictment included charges for violation of the Italian Privacy Code.
According to a post on the Official Google Blog, "In late 2006, students at a school in Turin, Italy filmed and then uploaded a video to Google Video that showed them bullying an autistic school mate. The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian Police." However, the according to an NPR report, Italian prosecutors argued that because of the popularity of the video, which remained on the site for two month and was included on the most entertaining videos for the Italian site, Google should have been aware of and removed the video sooner.
Google asserts that "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 ... 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 ... 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." As a result, Google stresses that it will support a vigorous appeal of the convictions.