Google Execs face criminal charges in Italy

May serve up to 36 months.

Published Tue, Feb 3 2009 6:59 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:37 PM CST
In a first of its kind move, the Public Prosecutor in Milan, Italy has filed criminal charges against Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer.

The charges (which include defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data) arose after a video depicting a disabled teen being bullied by several other boy showed up on Google's YouTube.

Google made the statement that this is "totally wrong" because they cannot be responsible for what people do on their site. This is the same tack they take with their other products such as Google Earth. It seems that Google does not feel any public responsibility for what can and cannot be done with their products.

Francesco Cajani (Milan's Public Prosecutor) feels different as under Italian law ISPs are responsible for third party content. This should make Google (the host of the service) responsible too.

Fleischer was arrested and brought before a judge on January 23rd. If this action goes through Fleischer could face up to 36 months in Italian prison. But more importantly it might finally set a precedent making the search and ad giant responsible for the material it pushes out.

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Google Execs face criminal charges in Italy

The investigators are upset that Google allowed the posting of a video showing a disabled teen being bullied by other kids. Google executives could be banged up for 36 months if convicted on the charges.

The move is believed to be the first instance of a privacy executive being held accountable for his outfit's actions.

A spokesGoogle moaned that bringing the case to court was "totally wrong" and has said that it has repeatedly expressed its sympathy for the victim and his family. Google co-operated with the authorities to find out who the bullies in the video were and they have been identified and punished," she said.

However the company cannot be held responsible for everything that appears on the World Wide Wibble, she added.

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