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    Update on Google Privacy Case in Italy

    In February, three Google executives were found guilty of violating the Italian privacy code, while a fourth was cleared of charges. The three convicted (Peter Fleischer, Google’s chief privacy counsel; David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer; and George Reyes, a former chief financial officer) were given six-month suspended sentences. (Recap: In September 2006, a video showing a disabled boy being harassed by classmates that was uploaded to Google Video’s Italian site. Google removed the video in November 2006 within 24 hours of a removal request being made. Last year, Italian authorities charged all four Google executives with defamation and three with failure to comply with the Italian data privacy code.)

    Now, the New York Times reports on the 111-page judicial reasoning (7.7 MB pdf, in Italian) from the Italian court concerning the case.

    An Italian judge convicted three Google employees in February of violating privacy laws because the Internet company had sought to profit from a video of an autistic boy being bullied by classmates, according to a judicial reasoning in the case released on Monday. […]

    But in the 111-page reasoning, the judge, Oscar Magi, said that the Internet was not an “unlimited prairie where everything is permitted and nothing can be prohibited.” Instead, he wrote, there were laws regulating behavior and if those laws were not respected, “penal consequences” could ensue. […]

    Judge Magi did not say that Google had to monitor all the content uploaded to its platforms but suggested that the company could be more vigilant. He also said Google had an obligation to make European privacy policies clear to third-party users of its platforms. At the time that the video was posted, those policies were so poorly known as to be ineffective, he wrote.

    On Monday, Google criticized Judge Magi’s reasoning. “As we said when the verdict was announced, this conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built,” the company said in a statement. “If these principles are swept aside, 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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