Back in 2006, a group of Italian teenagers filmed a video as they assaulted another teenager who had downs syndrome. They uploaded the film to Youtube, where it was pulled only after topping the most viewed list and stirring up a national outrage in Italy a full two months later. Viva Downs, an Italian Down Syndrome support group, argued that the video should never have appeared in the first place and filed a complaint. Today the judge found chief legal officer David Drummond, global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer and former CFO George Reyes guilty of privacy violations and they received suspended six-month jail sentences.
The video, which was uploaded to Google Video in 2006, showed four teenagers beating and insulting a 17-year-old disabled student infront of about a dozen bystanders in Turin.
Google Italy, which is based in Milan, eventually took down the clip nearly two months later but not before the video caused a national outrage.
None of the executives were involved in the production or uploading of the video, but prosecutors argued that as it had topped a most-viewed list it should have been noticed sooner.
The decision is sure to affect all manner of Internet companies, not just Google. Italian law says that Internet service providers are not liable for content posted by users, but Internet content providers are a different story—they are responsible for the things they "publish." Google had argued that it falls into the former category, but Judge Oscar Magi disagreed.
.....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.