Four Google (GOOG) employees face charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data in Italy. Court proceedings begin February 3 in Milan.
Their crime: Not stopping someone from uploading a three minute video to Google Video depicting four Italian teens mocking and hitting a teenager with Down’s Syndrome in September 2006.
After complaints from the Italian Interior Ministry, Google removed the video a day after it was uploaded. It had been viewed 12,000 times.
In the U.S., laws protect Web service providers and their employees from being held liable for crimes their users commit. The idea is that it would be too expensive for the companies creating these services to monitor all of their users all the time. Apparently, similar protections are not available in Italy.
PC World: Google maintains charges against the employees are unwarranted, [Google’s European public policy counsel Marco] Pancini said. Europe’s E-commerce Directive exempts service providers from prescreening content before it is publicly posted, he said. Also, the video was technically uploaded to a Google server in the U.S., not in Italy, Pancini said.
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