Feeds

Google on trial over Italian 'defamation' vid

Execs face jail time for Turin teenagers' taunt

The Privacy Trial of the Century is already waving jail time at three current Google execs and its former chief financial officer. And now there's an added complaint against the company itself.

In September 2006, someone posted a three-minute cell-phone video to Google's Italian website in which four Turin teenagers make fun of a classmate with Down's Syndrome. And in July, after two years of investigation, Italian authorities filed criminal charges against four Google execs: chief legal officer David Drummond, chief privacy officer Peter Fleischer, an unnamed London-based video exec and chief financial officer George Reyes, who has since left the company.

The four current and former employees are charged with defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data. "What is at issue is whether or not privacy laws that apply to newspapers or to the radio also apply on the web, or whether it is a sort of free port where anything goes," prosecutor Alfredo Robledo tells the International Herald Tribune. "We are raising the issue to show that there are holes in Italian legislation."

The trial of the Google execs was set to begin today in Milan, but after a short hearing the judge delayed proceeding until February 18, according to a report from the International Association for Privacy Professionals.

During the hearing, the City of Milan filed a complaint against Google itself. An Italian legal mind tells the IAPP that local law allows public entities to file for compensation when a claim involves someone with disabilities.

The video in question showed a 17-year-old with Down's Syndrome as four other 17-year-olds hit him over the head with a box of tissues. It was uploaded on September 8, 2006, and almost a month later, Google received two takedown notices - one from an individual user and one from the Italian Ministry.

The search giant removed the video within a day of receiving the complaints. But Italian authorizes argue that company execs broke the law by allowing the posting in the first place.

Google Privacy Chief Peter Fleischer is expected to appear during the trial. In late January, he flew from his Paris home base to Milan to deliver a speech and when he deplaned he was stopped by local police. Following the speech, he was taken to the public prosecutor to give a deposition.

Google declined to discuss the trial, but provided the following 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. However, 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." ®

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.