The BBC News is reporting that an Italian court has convicted three Google executives over footage showing a teenager with Down's Syndrome being bullied, which was posted to YouTube.
The Three Google executives were convicted of violating privacy laws over the footage. The execs were David Drummond, Senior Vice President, George De Los Reyes, ex financial executive and privacy Chief Peter Fleischer. The case is the first time a web company has been held criminally liable for user posted content and has raised serious concerns how internet platforms could continue to operate if the decision is held.
David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google spoke to the BBC and said he was "outraged" by the decision. "I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent," he said.
The video itself was uploaded by four school students who were later expelled from their school in Turin, Italy. The bullies were also convicted in a youth court. Google's lawyers argued that the company could not be held responsible for content uploaded to the service and that pre-screening all YouTube content was impossible. Over 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
In a company blog posting on Wednesday, Matt Sucherman, Google VP and Deputy General Counsel of Europe said it was "outrageous" that the employees faced trial at all. "We are deeply troubled by this conviction for another equally important reason. It attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming."
The three Google executives received six month suspended sentences after being found guilty of violating Italian privacy laws. An appeal court is expected to hear the case later this year. A Google spokesperson confirmed "we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision."