Over a year ago I wrote the following:
In 2006 a few kids teased a child with Down syndrome and video recorded it. They subsequently posted the video to YouTube Google Video. After being notified, Google removed the video and helped to make sure that the kids who did this were punished (Which they deserved).
Here’s where it gets loopy.
Some prosecutor in Italy has filed criminal chargers against four Google executives arguing that they should never have allowed for the publication of this video in the first place (If Italy’s election system is anything like ours, the prosecutor probably has plans to run for higher office).
The main issue is that the child in the video did not consent to being in the video.
Basically, there is an Internet full of user-generated/ user-created content, some legal, some illegal, and some that rests in the gray area between the two. You can’t hold Google accountable for content illegally posted by a user. Especially when they assisted in removing the video after they were asked to do so.
That would criminalize web site operation or require all web site operators to screen every piece of data posted. All that should be required is what Google did – take down illegal content when they are notified. It’s not like they are operating some kiddy porn site where the purpose is sinister and all of the content is illegal. It is the fault of the people who posted the video. Punish them.
This is like filing charges against a shop owner because one customer robbed another in the store.
Hopefully justice prevails in this case.
It turns out that justice didn’t prevail, and they actually convicted four top Google executive. This means that everyone who owns and operates a website can be held criminally liable for the content that others post in Italy.
I’ve put a lot of effort into trying to conceive an argument in favor of this decision, but I can’t find the slightest hint of rationality in it. If this isn’t overturned, there will be horrible ramifications from this precedence.