February 24, 2010

3 Google executives are criminally convicted — in Italy — based on Google's hosting of a video that some Italian students uploaded.

Incredible! And Google even took down the video as soon as it was notified and helped the authorities find and punish the students.

And how horrendous was this video? It depicted bullying. The child bullied had Down syndrome, but still.

ADDED: From the Official Google Blog:
[The conviction] attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming. European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.

27 comments:

rhhardin said...

I'd assume they failed one of the ordeals used to determine guilt in Italian trials.

wv tentive, a first crack at spelling

Pastafarian said...

I didn't see any mention of the executives' citizenship in the article. Does anyone know if these were Italian citizens?

Probably a stupid question, and the prosecution (let alone the conviction) is outrageous either way, but if they're not even Italian and they might be extradited to serve their sentences, that's even more chilling.

MadisonMan said...

Yes, don't watch video on-line in Italy. Watch only the media that are controlled by the President.

traditionalguy said...

Google is now in the EU's sights as the next giant pile of money that looks like an American target for the local gangsters in Brussels to demand protection money payments from. Their offer that Google cannot refuse is being painted as based upon "love for the children", as usual. Bill Gates also went thru this right of passage.

Pastafarian said...

I looked it up: No, they weren't Italian citizens; but the sentence was suspended, so I guess that means that they don't have to serve any actual time.

But this conviction is still absurd.

YoungHegelian said...

Hey Buddy,

That's a nice soych enjin, ya got der! It'd be a reel shame if sumthin' wuz to happen to it.

traditionalguy said...

The northern capital of the Empire was Trier closer to the Brussels nerve center today. But Italy has resumed a role to play in the operations of the Holy Roman Empire's descendants.

Bryan C said...

They should put the video back up. I'm serious. Removing the video only sets a horrible precedent for the next idiotic case, and it didn't even do them any good.

Big Mike said...

Coupled with the Amanda Knox case and the wierd tale of the Monster of Florence, it becomes clear that "Italian Justice" is a far bigger oxymoron than "military intelligence" or "civil war."

Scott M said...

Ever get the feeling the Empire's theme song from Star Wars should play in the background whenever Google is in the news?

I switched to Bing a while back and, aside from the excellent photo images they come up with daily, it's worked out just fine as a Google replacement.

chuckR said...

ScottM

And when Bing is widely successful, the Euros will come after it and the people who run it.
Althouse better watch it. Blogger probably has some European readers. If we get too impolitic here, maybe the Italian legal system will get all butt hurt and come after her.

Fred4Pres said...

An Italian government official will never pass up an opportunity for a good shakedown of some foriegn corporate entity! Google, wrong place, wrong time.

Google is okay. So is Bing.

I switched to Bing after Google ignored December 7 (you screwed up Google--what are you afraid of, upsetting the Japanese?). That said, Google's search engine is better when you really don't know exactly what you are looking for (because it casts a bigger net). Bing is better when you do (to avoid the clutter).

I do like the Bing photographs, although they could have been more creative for the Winter Olympics.

Triangle Man said...

Italy continues to be a joke.

I see Fred fell for Bing's marketing campaign against Google. Any day of national significance that Google fails to recognize with a special logo is now Bing's chance to grab market share.

In college, our local pizza shop's delivery guys would stir up students against Domino's using Tom Monaghan's support of pro-life groups. Some people fell for it despite the fact that the local pizza was terrible.

kathleen said...

My husband has had personal interactions with one of the Google defendants. Let's just say that this particular defendant behaves in a manner in keeping with Google's reputation as arrogantly and thoroughly convinced of its own virtuousness. In the face of this overweening arrogance, I can't help but think that the Italian court chose to get its message across in the strongest terms possible, i.e. via criminal conviction -- i.e. can Google hear them now?

Penny said...

In trying to find out what the punishment was for the four Turin teens involved, I happened across another article about Italy vs. Facebook.

This from moneycontrol.com:

"An Italian Facebook group proposing that children with Down's syndrome be used for target practice has been shut down and Italy's equality minister threatened the "thousands of idiots" involved with legal action on Tuesday."

In this case, the perpetrators may get up to four and a half years for inciting a crime.

Scott M said...

Some people fell for it despite the fact that the local pizza was terrible.

Point of order: it's been long established that there is no such thing as a bad pizza. Countless jokes about blow jobs count on it.

Triangle Man said...

Fair enough Scott. The local pizza was significantly worse than Dominos.

Fred4Pres said...

I see Fred fell for Bing's marketing campaign against Google. Any day of national significance that Google fails to recognize with a special logo is now Bing's chance to grab market share.

I am not sure the term "fell for" is correct as much as conscious decision. Google knows what it is doing. So do I. December 7 still means something to me. I visited the Missouri several years ago and had the pleasure that the group I was put in being led by a Pearl Harbor Attack vet (American of course).

I used to have a convertable bug that was worked on by a Japanese kamazazi pilot. He survived the war because just as he was about to fly on his mission, the Emperor declared peace. After the war he emigrated to the USA and fixed Volkswagens.

Fred4Pres said...

Dominos is not pizza. Dominos is about as evolutionary close to pizza as bush babies are to human beings.

Triangle Man said...

Sorry Fred. Maybe "went for" fits better, but it is a marketing gimmick to attract people to the (currently) inferior search engine nonetheless. Let's see what happens on March 6th. If Bing wants market share in Texas, they have a real opportunity because Google has never seen fit to commemorate Alamo Day.

Of course, Bing could also win if the Italians jail the management staff of Google.

If you think Dominos pizza is bad, you should have tasted the local stuff.

Irene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Irene said...

Apparently it's not a problem for Italian papers repeatedly to use still images of "il video-shock."

The frames portray, I think, the boy's torment clearly.

Christy said...

We forget just how extraordinary our own freedom of speech is. Just think back to those Canadian Human Rights Commissions. Preston's book The Monster of Florence, linked above by Big Mike, was a huge eye opener about what I'd always considered a civilized country.

Roux said...

What a bunch of idiots..... Will they start punishing the telco's because some kid says something nasty over a phone. How stupid are they.... I hope they turn the internet off in Italy ....

Shawn Levasseur said...

How the heck did these employees get chosen for prosecution out of the hundreds (if not thousands) of Google employees?

If this was a civil case against Google, I'd just brush this off as a case of looking for the deep pockets.

Criminal charges? Seriously, who crapped in that prosecutor's corn flakes?

[facepalm/]

MementoOfLaw said...

My husband has had personal interactions with one of the Google defendants. Let's just say that this particular defendant behaves in a manner in keeping with Google's reputation as arrogantly and thoroughly convinced of its own virtuousness. In the face of this overweening arrogance, I can't help but think that the Italian court chose to get its message across in the strongest terms possible, i.e. via criminal conviction -- i.e. can Google hear them now?

But is the prosecutorial power of a government really the appropriate force to take someone down a peg?

Listening to this, it's as if the greatest crime is to be rich and successful. Maybe in certain circles it is. And not just being successful as a company, no. The court had to get a name and a face for this vicious crime of success.

To take the matter up in civil court would be almost expected. But to convict people of crimes?

Stella Tyler said...

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