Google executives convicted over privacy claim

April 2010


An Italian court has convicted three Google executives of violating the privacy of a child with Down’s syndrome, after a video of the child being bullied in a Turin schoolyard was posted to the company’s YouTube video site. The executives were acquitted on charges of defamation, but received six-month suspended sentences on the privacy violation charges. Google said in a statement on its blog that it will appeal “this astonishing decision,” which the company said “attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built.” Google called the video in question “reprehensible,” and maintains that it “took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police.” The company added that it worked with local police to identify the uploader who, along with several other classmates, was sentenced to community service. None of the Google executives convicted — senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond; former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes; and global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer — reside in Italy or were present at the court proceedings. David Drummond, told the BBC: “I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent. If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our position at Google, every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability”.

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