Google: Che Diavolo, Italia?

Published on February 3, 2009
by John Paczkowski

In September 2006, a three-minute video featuring a group of teenagers harassing a boy with Down Syndrome was posted to Google Video Italia. Notified of its presence, Google quickly removed the video. But not quickly enough. The clip was viewed some 12,000 times before it was pulled. Enough times to inspire a two-year investigation and now, the trial of four Google executives on criminal charges of defamation and breach of privacy.

Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel; David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president and chief legal officer; George Reyes, the company’s former chief financial officer; and an unidentified exec from Google Video in London, are today in a Milan courtroom facing possible jail time for the incident, though they were not involved in it. Talk about blaming the tool for the way it is used….

Google (GOOG), for its part, insists the charges against the four executives are unwarranted. “As we have repeatedly made clear, our hearts go out to the victim and his family,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

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