Trial Of Google Execs Begins In Italy

Four face jail time for video they didn't handle

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In September of 2006, a clip of four Italian youths teasing a teenager with Down syndrome was uploaded to Google Video.  Today, the trial of four Google executives on criminal charges of defamation and privacy violations is set to begin in Milan.

Italian prosecutors argue that, even though the clip was removed within 24 hours of Google receiving complaints about it, the company should have kept the footage from appearing in the first place.  A precedent for holding sites responsible for third-party content will be set if the execs are convicted.

Peter Fleischer
 Peter Fleischer

Then there’s the issue of personal vs. corporate responsibility to consider.  David Drummond is Google’s senior vice president and chief legal officer.  .  Peter Fleischer is Google’s global privacy counsel.  George Reyes was, until August of 2008, its chief financial officer, and according to Saul Hansell, the fourth executive (who remains unidentified) worked at Google Video in London.  None of the men directly handled the offensive clip, but all face jail time.

We promise to keep a close eye on the proceedings.  In the meantime, Google’s issued a statement outlining its position.

The company said, "As we have repeatedly made clear, our hearts go out to the victim and his family.  We are pleased that as a result of our cooperation the bullies in the video have been identified and punished.  We feel that bringing this case to court is totally wrong.  It’s akin to prosecuting mail service employees for hate speech letters sent in the post.  What’s more, seeking to hold neutral platforms liable for content posted on them is a direct attack on a free, open Internet.  We will continue to vigorously defend our employees in this prosecution."


Trial Of Google Execs Begins In Italy
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