CXO

Google executives convicted by Italian court

Three Google executives were convicted of privacy violations by an Italian court in connection with a YouTube video.

In a verdict that is likely to have ramifications for content providers around the world, an Italian court found three Google executives guilty of privacy violations in connection with a video posted on YouTube showing an autistic teenager being bullied.

The three defendants convicted--Peter Fleischer, David Drummond and George De Los Reyes--received suspended six-month sentences.

David Drummond, the chief legal officer at Google and one of the men convicted said,

"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."

Even though the offending video was removed from YouTube as soon as it was brought to Google's attention. Legal counsel for Google said that it would be impossible to screen all videos and content and expects the verdict to be overturned on appeal.

The BBC has more on the story.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

190 comments
cobulater
cobulater

Maybe it's God's payback for those of us that got RIPPED OFF by Google when they closed our Adsense accounts for NO valid reason and STOLE our outstanding commissions which are potentially in the hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars that we were rightfully due, even though they "say" they will pay any outstanding balance, just TRY contacting them... It is IMPOSSIBLE. So maybe a LITTLE inconvenience while awaiting trial in Italy, will give them some "insight" to open up the line of communications if and when they are able to return back the good 'ol US of A and PAY to those Adsense publishers what is rightfully theirs. In retrospect, that will probably NEVER happen... Anyone want to open up a new Gmail account now that you KNOW what they are up to...?? Google just plain sucks...

opinione
opinione

While most of the news media and political commentators are looking at the recent Italian court decision against Google from the freedom of expression angle, the more accurate analysis of the Italian court decision is the power of Silvio Berlusconi, politics and money. As recent events in Italy have undoubtedly shown, the changes to the judicial system that Berlusconi and his cronies in government have pursued are not based on issues related to democracy, the rule of law, or good government but on protecting the financial interests and political power of Silvio Berlusconi and his allies. For people knowledgeable on how Italian society functions, the latest court decision against three Google executives is more about protecting the business and political interests of Silvio Berlusconi and his friends in government than it is about Google and the Internet. http://pinione.blogspot.com/2010/02/stinking-boot-below-alps.html

viper777
viper777

On the other side of the coin to what I had said here previously... There are many videos of things some would call distasteful but seem very real. Poor acting would generally give it away, but what if you saw a video you truly believed was real, but later you find was fake? If you haven't come across one, then you haven't looked properly but how does Google deal with this situation? How do they know at the end of the day, the "situation" in a video was an act or real - where do they get the resources to investigate every video that seems real enough to be news worthy compared to someone who is trying to win an oscar playing out some weird fantasy? Where does it end? Not saying the bullying video is fake; they have suspended those kids - it is real, but it was an obvious event to act on; how do you judge the rest?

viper777
viper777

There are many sites, especially in the Asian countries where they have tonnes of Mobile phone videos and one video there which is very popular was a group of teenagers (boys and girls) make this girl strip etc. The video apparently showed after some deviate act which was cut, where they got her on her feet and slapped her around while verbally abusing her, punching her in the stomach and made her march on one spot all while being filmed via a camera phone!!! Probably is still around! Sure you may find it thru the Google search engine I think, but how would Google know about it??? If it's available thru other search engines and if one day they want to get these executives, what does one do? The poor girl in the video is naked and humiliated and shown around the world on the web - it's the video takers and the bullies that should pay the ultimate price even though I do agree a little, that there should some random checking to filter out such bad taste stuff. If it's criminal by public standard, make sure it is filtered. If it's a riot gone wrong in China with resulting blood shed etc, then push thru the filtering and show it so the world can see... Moderation folks!!!

Dusterman
Dusterman

Oh please ..... they are looking for money .... spot light ..... that's it ....period ..... the end . . And anyone else here that says differntly is just looking for a place to see their name posted ...... . This is absolutely a shame for the child ...... but it would be the same as me sueing the German government because I lost several relatives in WW1 and WW2 . Shame on the Italian government for their participation in this sham proceeding.... it is and was merely a publicity stunt and someone looking for money.... money at the expense of further exposure of this situation. . All in all ..... bad form ! !

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

paying these people compensation etc as this all happened due to them following YouTubes established work procedures.

jbrosch@carolina.rr.com
jbrosch@carolina.rr.com

Perhaps with cases like this, why America has freedom of speech written into our constitution will become more evident.

driftair
driftair

To begin, I admit this is a bit of a rant that does not remain a toothpick with blinders on. Please do not take or mistake these opinions as threats of any kind. They are merely expressions of what has been observed. Censorship is against freedom of speech and freedom in general. You may notice that censorship is increasing worldwide. (In ways not seen before, and privacy is vanishing.) Meanwhile job losses are increasing as employers and people place their trust and value in paper and coin currency rather than valuing, encouraging and rewarding; personal creativity, inspiration, insight, and cheerful supportive energy provided to complete daily tasks, beginning with the use of television and education systems. At the same time controllers of industry (sometimes viewed as Management, Government, and/or CEO's?) seem to believe one can keep prices high, lay off many workers and pay every worker as little as possible, while encouraging taxes be placed upon everyone except one?s self, (do they really believe-) the economy will strengthen and the unemployed will have money appear out of thin air and into their pockets, enabling them to purchase industrial products. Politicians always seem to say the economy is improving when a little bump off a bottom is noticed! This applies to any increase in jobs, as well as any decrease in people claiming unemployment, actually due to them having become in-eligible and no longer qualifying to receive benefits. There are expanding numbers of people driving around with blinders on, I sometimes think of them as being in the toothpick category. Of course we may all have some hopefulness at work in our lives. Hopefulness may not be based upon reality. Many people have been resorting to placing law suits where ever and whenever they can to obtain "money" that was not received in respect for energy contributed for creativity, sweat, or helpfulness due to any number of reasons, including industrial and/or corporate bankruptcies. Just because something is imagined does not make it real. Some people believe that when one has a need, the universe and/or GOD, begins to automatically fill that need. Question: Did the mammoths and/or any currently extinct species have less of a need during the time when they were being wiped out? In spite of overvalued ?thought? mankind may not receive greater concern than they did. Changes are needed, but does throwing money around qualify as the type of effective change required? I think not. People in mass need a change in the scope of personal awareness. A larger, wider view needs to be embraced. It begins with realizing and accepting personal mistakes. Especially the kinds of errors that isolate and create resistance to enjoying ones experience with others on this planet. If individuals (all individuals) do not begin to grow stronger than their insecurities, humanity cannot survive. There is no room left for having blinders on, holding a view so strongly that one may justify killing anyone to defend it. There is a point in which self defense may come into play, but it does not apply to the world of thinking! As long as thinking is the core source, defense is artificial, contrived, a real immediate threat to ones survival is not thoughts and ideas alone, instead it is mistaken dependency upon memories and ideas that create the imagined threat. Hiding what is true only allows what is false, to spread and grow stronger. What can be kept in darkness, hidden away from view, can be sustained only as long as you and I refuse to be responsibly alert, and aware, while continuing to ignore personal; fears, weaknesses, and mistakes. Everyone has made a mistake. (Are you the exception born of GOD come to enforce your Kingdom and control over mankind?) Mistakes are common and hiding them builds the groundwork for every evil imaginable. Humanity works as people. When people fail, humanity fails. Using ?Evil? as a scapegoat only allows the mistakes of humanity, people to grow stronger, thus assuring failure and destruction. There is a hunger for change, but too many are pointing fingers and refusing to start at home with ones self. There is a great dependency upon industry and ?Government.? Self reliance is a term lost in the storm of controlling interests. There is no such thing as freedom when self reliance has no central place in living. Living courageously and honestly from ones heart with; inspiration, and creatively playful expressions of appreciation, strengthens personal integrity, as long as mistakes are recognized, acknowledged, and dropped, In favor of a better choice. When fear and/or pain is allowed to prevent the recognition and removal of mistakes, we begin the process of personal imprisonment. Of course, if you are in prison, you are not free. Are you really free? If you realize you are not currently free, you now have one simple step that can move you into freedom.

tjdavis007
tjdavis007

I think that the legal system in Italy is suspect in the fact that it did not do due diligence to determine the source of the act and in doing so set a precedence that anyone with literally half a brain can initiate a law suite but to what affect? I agree w/David Drummond there is no way for a hosting company to screen what it's partnering companies should maybe attempt to be doing in the first place. My firm recommendation for the Italian juris system needs to be questioned, reviewed and revised... they have been judged and found wanting.

bstowe
bstowe

I bet if you dig down into it one of the 4 boys that were expelled were kin or either known by the prosecution.

Rachid077
Rachid077

Google has a point on this one. But they should implement a system to avoid these kind of uploads from happening; will be very difficult to implement though!

jkameleon
jkameleon

Berlusconi is media magnate first, and politician second. He's trying to remove the competition mafia style.

markmarks
markmarks

By Just trying it out, Google?s latest version of Desktop looks really cool. It?s got some great features and it?s quite easy to use. Problem is even though Google?s Terms and Conditions states how they will never share any of your private information, what?s really stopping them and how do we really know what they are doing with it. Anyway how could we prove they were using our private information if we thought they were? I?m not saying anything new but I got a few ideas from this http://ketiva.com/Computers_and_Internet/searching_through_the_google_desktop_route.html

willycastle28
willycastle28

Privacy ends once you step out of your door. Freedom of speech is still a privilege in many parts of the world and soon will be extinct everywhere.

femtobeam
femtobeam

Viper777 The difference between reality and storyline was blurred when reality TV began, but even that was staged. What about the photos from the holocaust in WWII? Should those all be removed as well to protect the "privacy" of the victim's families...or is it an important documentation of crimes against humanity? Amazingly, despite all the evidence, Holocaust denyers still say it never happened. Without the photos, people would never have believed it. On a smaller scale, the autistic boy was being heckled by unfeeling and hardly punished harrassers, but not even his father would have known about it if it weren't for the video. Law enforcment surely would not have known. It gets into the realm of photo journalism, showing the state of the world. Privacy laws need to make sense. In terms of the faking of video, it is clear this can be done in real time by persons with DOC computers tied into the networks and fake communications are the heart of disinformation also, that too being for a purpose of lying to the public. We all know what that is about after 9/11. How does Google deal with the situation of being forced to become judge and jury and filterer of YouTube videos. They cannot. It is against freedom of speech. The Italian Government was wrong trying to force Google to cover for their social ills. Also, the boys father did not bring the suit over his son, it was a group representing autistic children. Now why would they do that instead of siding with the exposure of these crimes against an autistic person?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

were the server is located, if they have laws against that.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

people's privacy should be brought to task for it? Ever think a company like YouTube should be held responsible for what they allow to be posted on their web site? Well, the laws in most places says they are responsible for what is on the web site, unless they can show they took all reasonable actions to stop it being shown, such as restricting access to do so. YouTube does NOT restrict access, so no reasonable actions. They got hit as they deserved to be hit.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

humiliation, don't you care about how YouTube made it possible for this humiliating act in a non-public place was made public world wide without his approval or any thought to how it would hurt him more? Wake up.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Censorship is an action by those in authority to stop individuals from seeing or reading or saying what they want to. Privacy is the basic expectation to be able to do your own things in a non-public space without it becoming a public matter unless you break the law and get caught at it - eg drug dealers dealing from a house, or you give permission for them to do so. That is NOT the issue with this case. This case is about making people responsible for their own actions when they do something that violates another person's privacy. YouTube made an executive decision to NOT moderate or check videos before they went on public display. This decision has lead to people being put on public display without their approval, and often without their knowledge. Now the YouTube people involved are being held responsible for their refusal to protect people's privacy and their making their web site available for such an abuse of privacy.

justjosephhere
justjosephhere

Now that "the rest of the world" is gaining manufacturing capabilities the competition for the resources of the world are being diverted to those new markets (sometimes within their own borders). We in the U.S. (and the "West" in general) are no longer able to rather freely "use more than our share" of the raw materials, as we did for at least the previous century. Under the heading of "do the math" one will learn the direction we all are going. Unfortunately, in our previous luxury of lifestyle, we have let that skill decline. We feel we are entitled to the things we so long enjoyed. Finally, balance is in sight! For the "West" comes harsh disillusionment in this century. You, "driftair@...", have touched upon a few of the "symptoms" indicating the beginning of this shift. For those who insist upon maintaining their blinders will come many hardships, I predict. For those of us who are striving to learn & understand the recent history and contemporary dynamics of it all will come a time of great (small) business opportunities & personal challenges for learning, flexibility, adaptation, & ingenuity! Tragically though, few will "listen" to either of us & fewer still will seriously consider any of our points, let alone "the big picture". But rightly rant on, hoping that some do follow your hints! I too believe (hope) personal integrity can spread!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

responsibility as they did not do anything to protect the privacy of the individual or see if they had approvals for the display of the video.

QAonCall
QAonCall

Forcing the youtube user to create and authenticated (paid account). See Craiglist, backpage ebay etc etc. The fact is google WANTS and ENCOURAGES this activity. If the user could not be anonymous, they would not violate the law, and put the video on the web. If they did, google could say that was John Doe, get him. Simple easy solution. Advocate that freedom, with the responsbility. Freed AND responsibility go hand in hand!

efpd13
efpd13

How is it that a corporate exec. can steal the shareholders money and cause economic chaos for millions and not be responsible but someone posts a video and all of the sudden we are looking to hang the highest ranking official. There is no doubt that the prosecution is setting the special needs kid up for a multi million dollar payoff. $$$$$$ is the only reason....

dennis.cb
dennis.cb

So.. if I am reading into this correctly, this would be the equivalent of owning, say, a hardware store which I make a profit and selling someone a crowbar which is then used to break into a home. In this case, since the store owner provided the means to purport the criminal act he/she should be held criminally liable for the break-in. Seems completely rediculous.. youtube is just a vehicle, the criminals are the ones driving.. It is getting completely absurd these days with the actual CRIMINALS who commit the crimes are washed over and blame is pushed elsewhere. Perhaps google could put some terms in its EULA that states, when posting a publicly accessible video, the uploader is responsible for any applicable local/state/federal laws which may apply that the uploader must accept before submission. Obviously, private content would be just that.. private (ie home videos etc.)

gianni_migliorini
gianni_migliorini

As an italian let me say that your comment is useless just to use a polite word. To believe that one man has the power to stop the internet is naive and unrealistic,.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

although I don't know how much influence he has over the Italian court system. Was the case brought or prosecuted by the Italian equivalent of the US Justice Department? If so, I wouldn't be surprised to find Silvio's fingerprints.

acmp
acmp

+1 with the Privacy ends when you walk out the door. If I'm in the street I have no privacy rights protecting me from being filed or photographed. So how is google liable for anything if no crime was committed? The perpetrators of the attack are liable for assault, are they being convicted? Why villainise google for making profit as well. they are only as strong as we have allowed them to be. it is not their fault they are technical innovators and the worlds most popular search engine, they just provide good solutions that meet consumer demands, we choose to use their products. If you hate google stop using their stuff and go somewhere else. It appears that when the content breaching video was reported it was 'moderated' and removed. This is the right course of action and is to be commended. stop bashing google just because they are popular, get a life and have a nice day for once.

dayen
dayen

Right on indigo196 shut them down let turn off their internet all together Deadly Ernest I disagree with you on this on TV it would be called news and the bullies should go jail were they belong It seams they get off free not their fault well I hang them let google go. Freedom at this rate is freedoom Doom gone whatch what you say the though police are near. Don't think do what you are told SLAVERY BACK !!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

include certified signed approvals by all involved, with real names and proofs before they put it on display - moderation will stop it just as quick.

jkameleon
jkameleon

... and Berlusconi has a lot of money.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

When I walk out the door, I have no expectation of privacy. I have every expectation that my image will not be used, published, or distributed for the benefit of others without my permission. Take all the pictures you want of me picking my nose at the traffic light, just as long as they're for your personal use.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

approval of the model in it, or their guardian if they're under age. All other media distribution services have laws and rules to abide by that require them to get signed waivers first, why do you think YouTube should have an exception from this requirement? They should moderate what's put up on their web site, like many other site do. Especially when they're making money off it. This type of misuse of media distribution should have the moderating done BEFORE making it public and humiliating people in the first place. YouTube are just plain lazy and don't want to expend the effort or profits in doing the job properly, and are trying to get approval to do it badly and after the event.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

that is no reason why YouTube should be allowed to make that sort of stuff available out on the net and not be held responsible for what they've allowed out. They can institute a moderation process to review before it goes up - hell, most forums and discussion sites do it, and some news groups have been doing it for decades. The only effect a moderation process would have is to cut back on the profits made from YouTube and the amount of the wrong garbage being posted to it.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Bada-bing-badda BOOM! ..LOL! :^0

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

be sight signed waivers from all involved before the posters could put it up. If that had happened, then YouTube would have been off the hook as they would have taken all reasonable steps to see the laws were complied with. The posters would then also be charged with the criminal activities of fraud and falsification of legal documents. But, YouTube chose to do NOTHING about seeing the posts were compliant with the law, and thus got caught with the wrong stuff on display. They, through their web site, made it possible for this video to be publicly displayed around the world, so they are accomplices and need to be dealt with for breaking the law, and need to change their ways. If you make a video of something in someone else's backyard and do not get waivers from all who are involved, they have the legal right to sue you if you put it on public display - and it matters not where you're standing at the time. The backyard is private property. Some exceptions are allowed by the courts for people who seek publicity, but even that's very thin at times on what they'll allow. It's all a matter of responsibility and control. If you have control, you have responsibility to see it's exercised right. The YouTube management and staff have the control of the YouTube web site, they choose NOT to exercise that control, their choice, but they also take a risk that anyone can break the law and those in control are then held accountable for that breach - as happened here. It's like the state laws on seatbelts here. I can't force you to wear a seatbelt while you're in my car. But if i can't get you to put it on, I have to get you to leave the vehicle or ai can't drive anywhere. As I have control of the vehicle, I'm responsible to see all in it behave by the laws and I will get charged along with you if a cop finds me driving down the road and you aren't wearing your seatbelt - I get charged for 'Allowing you to break the law.' And that's exactly what these guys got hit for, for allowing the others to break the law by using something under their control. BTW A couple of reports mention that the video was reported many times and YouTube did nothing until hit with a court order, some weeks later.

acmp
acmp

2 things, rules change around the world so what is OK in Aus may not be elsewhere, don't quote your view as fact unless you are 100% sure. If the video was moderated it could have been declared as a fictional drama, therefore not violating any privacy laws and OK for public showing, who is responsible then? I'd say whoever falsely declared the video. How is the reality of this any different? The uploader declared that they complied with the rules (same situation as moderated version) so who is responsible now? I'd say not the host. Though once the breach is discovered the file should be removed, as it was. I have right too, freedom of speech (in my country) so why can't I report what I see. Maybe I video thugs beating up someone and wish to show the world, why should I not? If I haven't gone to unreasonable lengths to capture the video and the location is publicly viewable (even in someones back garden) I have the right to share the video, no waivers needed.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

public display are liable for what's there. If they do not want to check things before it goes up, they take a risk of being hurt by it when it breaks the law. The people in control should check it complies with their local laws before they put it up.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

a school is a non-public place. Images captured in a public place have different privacy expectations and laws to those in a non-public place. This case is about a video taken in a non-public place and then made public without the approval of all those in it. A clear breach of the laws.

JCitizen
JCitizen

like television, you could ALMOST compare them, but because you have to buy it, and logon to get it, that puts it into the private area, so I'd think there is some differences. However I do not think this gives YouTube carte-blanche to hold illegal video sequences [u]that have been flagged by consumers[/u]. I haven't seen the content, so can't be sure, but they should surely not be held harmless from tort law. This is a lot like that newspaper controversy a while back isn't it DE? I think everyone was in agreement by the end of the day, that the newpaper was libel under that incident as well.

Charvell
Charvell

or you'd see people crying or fleeing in fear on News broadcasts of natural disasters, home fires, terrorist attacks etc. Does the news have prior consent before airing that? No, they don't. They rush it to the screen to boost ratings. Why is that not illegal? The fact is, you are arguing in circles. I'm not sure what your beef against google is, or maybe you think all big companies are evil entities. And what, exactly, makes moderators so perfect? The fact is, offensive material is ALMOST COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE. What I might find humorous, you probably find offensive. What I find to be a prefectly reasonable video of someone declaring their views, you'd most likely consider to be inflamitory and likely to insight a riot. So, lets fix the root of the problem, and not try to use a band aid on an arterial bleed and say it'll fix everything.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

much right wing, and now you say left wing. I'm still waiting for anyone to provide a good reason for YouTube to have an exemption from being responsible for what they display on their web site, when everyone else in the world is responsible fro what's displayed! I'm still waiting for someone to provide a good reason why YouTube should not moderate what they allow to be displayed on their web site! I'm still waiting for someone to give a good reason why YouTube does NOT have to meet the same laws as other media display organisation on what's required before they can legally display images of private individuals in non-public places! Why must a television station get a waiver signed for an in the street interview before they can air it, yet you allow YouTube to air a video made of an individual without their permission! The video in question is a major breach of the privacy and freedom of the individual in it, not the rectums who made it.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

in a non-public view or place with events in the public view. The television crews etc have no right to stick a camera over your back fence and film you in your backyard, they are required to get you to sign a waiver before they do so, hell, in most countries, they have to get you to sign a waiver before they can air and 'in the street' interview with a member of the general public. now why should YouTube be exempt from such laws and legal action? There is no reason to give them an exemption. It's their web site, so they are responsible for what is displayed on it.

Xhopp3r
Xhopp3r

Ernest, you should really stop posting here and go back to living your communistic lifestyle. I have read all of your posts in this thread and you have really irritated me with your idiotic comments. I think Tech republic should be taken to court because they provided a means for you to irritate me. Why punish Google for this ? I don't care if they make money or not. Punish the people in the video. The Italian courts or any other court should thank Google for providing them with a video that could enable their law enforcement investigators to find the perpetrators. Yeah it's a sad video, however, Google did not make the video. It's a stupid idea to punish the publishers. Why not go after porno industry? They provide "questionable" content (if you're a real conservative in your thinking) to the public, and many kids get access to their content. Isn't that wrong ? You can't show the world that a kid with a certain condition is getting a beaten, but you can make porn available to kids. Ironic. This verdict is bullshit and communistic in nature. Europe has always had a hint of communistic thinking. Want to moderate the internet ? This is the wrong way of doing it. It violates freedom of speech. If people forget about this freedom or any other freedom, we will lose them, if we haven't already. Boycott all things Italian until verdict is reversed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The type of events you describe are considered news events of public interest and do not require release forms.

taskman
taskman

So the TV and newspaper crews that rush after RTA's, house fires and terrorist attrocities and beam these images around the world, including images of people, get release forms signed by those pictured in such events before screening? Thought not, so why aren't they breaking the law as well, or do they play from a different set of rules?

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