Google Video trial to continue to Italian supreme court

The prosecution maintains that Google execs should be held criminally responsible for user uploaded videos, Google's EU privacy chief said

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Legal

Three Google executives are heading back to court in Italy, where the prosecutor has appealed their acquittal on charges of allowing a video to be posted in breach of Italy's privacy laws, one of the Google execs involved said on Wednesday.

Google's Senior Vice President David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer Peter Fleischer and Chief Privacy Counsel George Reyes were initially handed six-month suspended prison sentences by a Milan court in 2010 for allowing the video showing the bullying of a handicapped student to be posted to Google Video. However, in December the sentence was overturned by the Milan appeals court. The appeals court also upheld the lower court's decision to acquit the executives of defamation and confirmed the acquittal on that charge of the former head of Google Video Europe.

But the case is case is not over yet. The Italian prosecutor last week decided to appeal the case with the Italian Court of Cassation, the highest court in the judicial system, said Fleischer in a post on his personal blog.

The Italian prosecutor is arguing that employees like Fleischer can be held criminally responsible for user-uploaded videos, Fleischer said, adding that he had no knowledge of the video at issue, and nothing to do with it. The prosecutor also asserts that platforms like YouTube should be responsible for prescreening user-uploaded content and obtaining the consent of people shown in user-uploaded videos, Fleischer said.

This is a threat to freedom of expression on the Internet, according to Fleischer. "I'm disappointed that this case is not over, but continue to believe that ultimately justice will prevail," he wrote.

The video at issue in the case, posted to the now defunct Google Video service in 2006, showed a disabled boy who was being teased by his classmates. The video was taken down by Google after the company received protests from the charitable organization Vividown, which represents Down Syndrome sufferers. Vividown and the victim withdrew from the case after reaching a settlement with Google.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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