A Milan judge has found three Google executives guilty of violating Italian privacy laws. The judge also noted that it was his opinion the violations by the Google three were for monetary gains. The case involves a video of Turin youths who were tormenting a mentally handicapped student at their school. The complaint was that Google did not do enough to stop the video from being shown, which the judge stated violated Italian privacy laws.
In a recent article it also stated that:
The convictions of Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, Global Privacy Counselor Peter Fleischer and former Chief Financial Officer George Reyes caused widespread controversy and were condemned by many observers as a threat to the freedom of expression on the Internet. The three were all acquitted on a second charge of defamation, as was their colleague, former head of Google Video Europe Arvind Desikan, who was not charged with the privacy violation.
Judge Magi stressed that the executives bore responsibility for the failure of oversight because at least part of the data-handling took place outside of Italy, “in particular in the United States, the place where the servers belonging to Google Inc. are undoubtedly located.”
His Milan court had jurisdiction, however, Magi argued, because “Google Italy handled the content that was uploaded to the Google Video platform and therefore bore responsibility for it at least in so far as the [Italian] privacy law is concerned.”
The judge criticized the information made available by Google on its own privacy rules as “totally inadequate or in any case so buried in the general conditions of the contract as to appear completely ineffective as far as the requirements of the law are concerned.”
I am sure that this court decision is going to raise some eyebrows for several reasons. First, in a day and age when posting of comments, articles, pictures, and video are virtually uncontrolled, who is really responsible — the poster[s], or the Web site that allows the posting to be made? In this case, Google removed the content once it was brought to its attention. Second, who controls the Internet? One country? Several countries? Every country in the world?
This has always been one of the benefits of the Internet. There is no legislative control by any lone government. So will this decision change things? I seriously doubt it.
What do you think?