Googlers might face Italian jail time

Tue 3 February 2009 15:30, Bas van den Beld

Googlers might face Italian jail time

Four Google executives, amongst which Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, might face jail-time in Italy. The Googlers are charged with defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data.

A video which showed a disabled kid being bullied by other kids was allowed to be uploaded by Google. The Google executives are being held responsible for allowing it and not removing the video right away. If they are found guilty they could face 36 months in jail.

The video was uploaded in September 2006 and removed within 24 hours. That wasn’t quick enough for prosecutor Francesco Cajani. Under Italian law ISPs are responsible for all content on their sites, including that of third parties. He ordered the arrest of Fleischer and his colleagues. Fleischer was arrested by five policemen when on his way back from speaking at the University of Milan last week.

Google has objected to the arrests. It states it has cooperated with the authorities to get the bullies arrested and believes the company and especially the executives, can not be held responsible for what is published on the web. “Locking up Google employees was an attack on a free, open Internet”.

Google's statement:

"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."

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