Google execs convicted over video
Padraig Reidy: An Italian court has convicted Google executives
24 Feb 10

This is genuinely alarming.

An Italian court has convicted Google executives David Carl Drummond, George De Los Reyes and Peter Fleischer (now retired), for violation of privacy, after a video of an Autistic child being bullied was uploaded to Google Video.

The case was brought by charity Viva Down, who claimed that Google (which owns YouTube) was culpable for not gaining the consent of all parties in the video before it was uploaded. The charity also claimed that Google had been too slow to react when asked to remove the video.

Can Google really be responsible for every piece of content on Googe Video or YouTube? Doesn’t this seriously confuse how the web works?

This from the Google blog:

Google’s statement

But we are deeply troubled by this conviction for another equally important reason. It 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.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.