A judge in Milan, Italy convicted three Google executives over a video that was uploaded to YouTube. This ruling can have major implications for social media. Uploaded in 2006, the video features a group of school kids bullying an autistic child. Google states that the company worked with Italian authorities to help ID the person that was responsible for uploading it and the other participants from the video were sentenced to community service.
Now, Google executives David Drummond, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes (3 out of 4 defendants) were convicted of “failure to comply with the Italian privacy code” and were found not guilty of criminal defamation.
“In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload,” wrote Matt Sucherman, VP and Deputy General Counsel – Europe, Middle East and Africa on the Google Blog. “We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question.”
“The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police,” said Sucherman.
“To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video,” he said. “They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video’s existence until after it was removed.”
If a ruling like this again Google was something that would happen more often, how much would this affect the social media industry? Companies like Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc. won’t be able to let their users upload content, which is what social media is all about. Without that, it wouldn’t even exist.
This is why Google is upset about the ruling against its executives, but calls it a “serious threat to the web.”