A court in Milan has convicted three Google Italy executives over an Internet video showing a handicapped teenager being bullied AFP reports.
The video, uploaded on Google Video, where it remained for nearly two months in late 2006, showed four students bullying the teenager with Down’s syndrome in front of more than a dozen others who did not intervene.
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The bullies were suspended from their school in Turin, northern Italy, and Google Italy did eventually take down the video nearly two months later but not before the video caused a national outrage.
Due to their delay in action, Milan Judge Oscar Magi ruled that David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development, and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, as well as George Reyes, a former chief financial officer, were guilty of the privacy violation charge. The three men were cleared of a defamation charge..
“Google will appeal this astonishing decision” , Google spokesman Bill Echikson said in a statement, adding that the sentence “attacks the principle of freedom of expression”.
“None of these four people had anything to do with the video. They didn’t film it, they didn’t upload it, they didn’t review it. Nonetheless they were held criminally responsible,” Echickson told reporters
“If we are responsible for each vetting, each photo, each video, each posting … then the web as we know it will cease to exist … and the technical benefits will disappear,” Echikson said.