Google hits back at “outrageous” video conviction

Google has reacted furiously to the conviction of three of its executives for hosting a video of a boy with autism.

Google hits back at “outrageous” video conviction

The trio, including chief legal officer David Drummond and former CFO George Reyes, were convicted by a court in Milan of invasion of privacy after a video showing a teenage boy with Down’s Syndrome being abused by his classmates was posted on Google Video.

The three were also acquitted of defamation charges against the Italian teenager, with a fourth Google executive being absolved of all charges. The trio have been handed six month suspended jail sentences, which Google says it will appeal.

While the company expressed its sympathy for the video being published, a post on the Google blog said that it was “outrageous that they have been subjected to a trial at all”.

“We are deeply troubled by this conviction. 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,” added the post, by Matt Sucherman, vice-president and deputy general counsel for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He added that he felt that the liability in EU law was “drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbour from liability”, providing they remove any illegal content as soon as they become aware of it.

”If that principle is swept aside and sites… are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them… 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.”

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