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    IAPP: Google privacy professional facing criminal charges

    “Google’s global privacy counsel will appear in Italian court this week on criminal charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data. The charges follow a two-year investigation by Italian authorities into footage uploaded onto Google Video that showed a disabled teen being disparaged by peers,” reports the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

    Google’s Paris-based Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer and three other executives charged in the case will appear before the Criminal Court of Milan on February 3. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 36 months.

    It is believed to be the first criminal sanction ever pursued against a privacy professional for his company’s actions.

    The video that sparked the investigation was captured in a Turin classroom. Four high school boys were recorded taunting a young man with Down syndrome, ultimately hitting the 17-year-old with a tissue box. One of the boys uploaded the footage to Google Video’s Italian site on September 8, 2006. […]

    Google removed the video on November 7, 2006, within 24 hours of receiving the requests.

    Nonetheless, Milan public prosecutor Francesco Cajani decided that by allowing the 191-second clip onto its site, Google executives were in breach of Italian penal code. […]

    Cajani is prosecuting Google as an Internet content provider. Unlike Internet service providers, Italian penal code states that Internet content providers are responsible for the third-party content posted to their sites. This is essentially the same law regulating newspaper and television publishers.

    But the Internet is a different medium, says Google. “We cannot agree with the concept that a tool can be blamed for the use that is made of it,” a company spokesperson said.

    More details in IAPP’s full story. Here’s an interview with with Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, news that he has joined a group advising the European Commission on privacy, and his unofficial blog on privacy.

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