PL&B International E-news, Issue 80

1. Google executives face criminal charges in Italy

Four Google executives are facing criminal charges in Italy for failing to control information posted to Google which included a video of teenagers taunting a young man with Down’s syndrome. They face up to 36 months in prison. The trial was scheduled for 3 February in Milan, but has been postponed until 18 February. The defendants include Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel.

The video was posted to Google's Italian site in September 2006. Complaints about the video were received on 6 November 2006, and Google removed the video the next day. The Milan public prosecutor argues that Google was criminally liable for allowing the 191-second video on its site at all. Under Italian law, Internet service providers are not responsible for third-party content if they remove objectionable material after complaints are received. Content providers, however, are responsible for all posted content. The Milan prosecutor is contending that Google is a content provider.

Google issued a statement on 2 February, saying “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."

A more detailed analysis of the case will be in the February issue of PL&B International.

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2009