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back to article Google execs protest Italian guilty verdicts

Three Google executives have been given suspended sentences for breaching Italian privacy laws. The three were found not guilty of defamation but guilty of privacy offences. The case centred on a Google Video clip of a child with Down's syndrome being taunted and hit by four school boys. The clip was put on Google Video in …

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A chilling Precedent...

What, that you should be responsible for the content that you are making advertising money out of? As you google execs say to everyone else "if your business model isn't viable then why should anyone else care..." Good on the eyeties I reckon.

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Coat

Love Google's Schizophrenic nature

According to this article they are a hosting provider....er no, in this instance you are a content provider and yes you should be liable for the content that you provide.

When it comes to net neutrality they are a Content Provider hard done to by hosting providers.

Quite interesting really. Or maybe it isn't.

Does it really matter?

Even if it matters, does it matter that it matters?

Zootle woordle zootle woordle.

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Pint

Wasn't me gov!

I find it highly amusing that the Google Executive is using the 'Pirate Bay Defense' of 'We didn't put it there. We're not responsible for what our users do!'.

The Pirate Bay guys were eventually found guilty based on the profits they allegedly made from advertising.

Google... profits... advertising...

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Anonymous Coward

If Google were a UK search engine..

Then the executives would already have been extradited to Italy, even before the trial. And the Home Secretary would be telling everyone how it's important that criminals be brought to justice without sight of the case against them.

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Anonymous Coward

missing rest of quote ?

"Google said it was impossible to pre-screen all YouTube content"

you missed the rest of the line "and still make money out it."

Possible yes, desireable no

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Alert

Desirable, possibly

"Google said it was impossible to pre-screen all YouTube content"

It looks like the court agreed with them; Google should, however be screening their most viewed clips.

I think I agree with the court on that. Clue to Google: "most viewed" implies "making most advertising bucks out of"

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Huh

You know what? That actually sounds like a reasonable compromise.

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WTF?

I don't know which is more chilling...

This rediculous verdict, or the fact that such a clip attracted so many viewers =OC

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Anonymous Coward

Stupid

So presumably they are going to prosecute the telephone company executives for allowing nuisance phone calls? And the minister for transport for allowing speeding to take place?

Easy solution for Google? Block access to all their services from Italy.

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easy solution

Thats the reason google should not be trusted ..... all to powerfull

The worst thing they could do is remove all their services.

To be hohnest the fact a abuse video can sit at the top of a most viewed list is pretty appauling

those lists should be monitored by live people imo

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FAIL

Not so easy

Glad to know you'll be funding the employees needed to monitor the top 10 and pull down videos that might be offensive. It's always cheaper for companies to "beg forgiveness than get permision". What a crock of shit! Let's burn Bibles too while we're feeling so liberal and censoring.

People need to get over themselves. Life is too short to worry so much about what offends others. Only way to prevent it from happening is an extinction-level event. I'm sure then, people would still be bitching that Google didn't predict that coming and we should sue them.

Fucktards, all around.

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ass + stick removal needed

Sorry mate but they are resposible for serving videos up to millions of people Every single day ...

I am happy accept they cannot censor everything but what they display on the Front page they could at least keep on eye on that. It is not out of the realms of possibilty and it would take hundreds of people to monitor the front page.

Maybe 10 -15 people for all top 10 lists in realtime which wouldnt even be needed.

so maybe even just 5 people would do.

Yes im sure googles main problem about this is that they could not afford to pay 5 ppls salary.

and YES I would PAY for it with the shopping i do through google you fucktard

The point i made was not being resposible for all their content but the content they push on their home page as you open youtube.

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Unhappy

Down's Syndrom...

(/rant)Can we all please stop using thi Down's Syndrom appelation and start saying Trisomy 21 again ?

I mean is it out of political correctness or just plain dumb "don't know what it is but it sure souds cooler than Trisomy", but ppl are using the appelation more and more.

Or maybe it is obfuscation, like "nahh, it's nothing, he just has Down's syndrom" which must be very different from "excuse him/her, he/she is a trisomic".

(/rantend)

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WTF?

What on earth are you smoking?

"Start saying trisomy 21 again"?

<wiki>John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The disorder was identified as a chromosome 21 trisomy by Jérôme Lejeune in 1959. </wiki>

Are you going to tell me people have been saying "trisomy 21" until the late victorian times, when the "Down's" became in vogue? Of all topics to throw a wobbly about, this is far offbeat.

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WTF?

"Google paid $1.6bn for YouTube in October 2006"

Does that mean that the Google execs are being held liable for something that happened before they owned the company (Youtube, that is)?

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No

The offending video was hosted on Google Video, if I recall...

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dangerous?

"The search and advertising giant also said it responded promptly when it received complaints about the clip"

And yet the clip remained on-line for a month. Perhaps if they had responded promptly the clip would have been removed within hours or, at worst, days. There is something seriously wrong with an organisation that measure promptness in months.

I appreciate that the top men were not personally involved in the incident but they are responsible for systems that lead to the distribution of offensive material for far longer than is acceptable. However if they feel that their own high standards were broken perhaps they would like to point to the employee who is responsible.

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Pirate

Top men are called Directors and Managers

and take legal reponsibility for their decisions.. unless you work in a Bank...

If you make money letting people plant something in your garden, and it happens to be a particular from of grass, you can't say "I'm not respobsible"..

Hang em high I say

Friday, Noon, Chocolate Square

front row seats at dar' hanging still available

Ad NonSense pennies not accepted

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Quite fast for rthem really

Remember a couple of years back when the Orkut crowd were age playing with photos of little kids and Google responded by threatening the complaining parents?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/02/google_orkut_dmca/

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Actually

the article does not mention when the complaints were made, just that the clip remained on line for a month. It could have been that the first complaint did not come in until after, say, 4 weeks, and that they clip was removed within one day. We just don't know.

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@Iggle Piggle

"The search and advertising giant also said it responded promptly when it received complaints about the clip"

"And yet the clip remained on-line for a month"

Isn't it within the realm of possibility that no-one complained in the first month?

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Jesus Wept - another anti Google comment ?

"Beating a disabled child should stay private"

What the bloody hell has that strap line got to do with the verdict and implications of this case?

At NO POINT have Google (or indeed anyone) said that.

This verdict has some vast implications, not just for Google but all other Web2 style sites - basically that the people running the site ARE COMPLETELY responsible for comments/postings to the sites. Google are right - it's impossible to review every posting to YouTube (or similar) without expending colossal amount of time and effort which would me them uneconomic

El Reg may as well shut down the comments section straight away, or get more Moderatrices (?). And get rid of some of their hacks too. Because sooner or later something will get through that breaks some law somewhere in the world. And you WILL be responsible.

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I believe

The general gist of the strap line, was that the Italian government had no problem with 4 people beating up a disabled child, as was shown in the video, there were no cries to arrest them or punish them.

The only thing they have raised a fuss about is with google hosting the video without asking the permission of the people in the video first!

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Anonymous Coward

I trust that no other potential infractions were overlooked

and all material that breaches privacy has been removed from Deja, (aka Google Groups), Blogger, Picasa, Panoramio, and Feedburner, to select a variety of Google properties that are presumably accessible in Italy and list them alphabetically

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A twisted defence

Whether they should be guilty or not I cannot comment on, but the idea that they "cannot possibly screen all content" is ridiculous. And it's one that under various phrasings appears repeatedly in similar situations.

It's true that there is so much content that they cannot possibly screen it.

It's also true that it's entirely their own choice to run a service that allows so much content.

If it's a requirement to screen content (I don't know personally) then the answer is not to refuse to due to the quantity, but to reduce the quantity to make it possible to meet that requirement. They make their choice, they should live with the consequence.

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bzzzt wrong

And so we lose YouTube, and every other user generated contet site. All non-pre-moderated forums are shut down in case someone copy/pastes a copyrighted article.

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They got off light

As of now they should be on a special rendition flight to Azerbaijan.

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Big Brother

Why punishing the messenger?

Why not punish the person who created this video?

Punishing Google in this case is like punishing a messenger because the Italian government doesn't like the message they give. Google didn't create the message, they simply delivered it. Does the government state punish the post office if someone gets sent an insulting letter?

Yes its an insulting video but Google didn't create that video.

I can't help thinking there is something more to this case than they are openly saying.

Publicly the Italian government is playing a "think of the children" joker card, to win them support, but privately what are they really up to?. The Italian government is clearly moving very publicly against Google, so what would keep the Italian government happy? ... I very much doubt they want or expect Google to check every video. A far more likely political goal for the Italian government would be to force the end of anonymity for posted videos online in Italy (and in doing so, set a country wide precedent to end anonymity for everything posted online in Italy). That way companies are then legally not involved, its the person who posts is exposed to any legal action, not the company who in effect is exposed as they (currently) protect anonymity. So everyone then gets forced into registering who you are, in a government approved way, then you are allowed to post online. That way the government can then directly punish anyone they wish for whatever they post online. Simply the fear of punishment is enough to silence a lot of public criticism of their government which is a far more likely goal than this public "think of the children" show trial. The Italian government wants to force companies like Google to tell them who does what.

After all anonymity is the enemy of all governments. People can speak freely without fear of being silenced by their government so governments want to end anonymity so people once again can feel intimidated into staying silent. (A lot of the 1984 book is about how people police themselves into silence, through fear Big Brother maybe watching them at any moment (even if most of the time Big Brother was not always watching them. Fear of punishment for speaking out keeps most people in line to follow their ruling elite's wishes. (Its also why votes have for centuries been made in private, to prevent state interference with the voters). Privacy is under attack these days like never before, you can bet governments hate online anonymity and are seeking ways to break it. State controlled media outlets are easier to control and punish if they step out of line. These days the Internet allows people to speak out against their governments like never before.

You can bet if this forces Google and other online publishing companies to change in Italy, then other governments will want their countries to also follow suit. The result would be the end of online anonymity as companies publish who does what so they are legally freed from being held accountable, and then the governments get what they wanted all along. They want the end of online anonymity. :(

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not quite the same

Calling Google just the messenger is not quite right in this case. They are not delivering a letter from one person to another like a postman. Nor are they very much like PirateBay. If you use a torrent from PirateBay for a recent film, you know you're breaking the law, and that is your choice. PirateBay facilitate this, but nothing hosted on their site is illegal. Youtube are more like a TV company, making programmes (which are often created by third parties) available to the general public. There is a need for more accountability, as in the case of broadcasting. If a TV program offends, there are channels (OfCOM etc) whereby a complaint can be registered. If the complaint is upheld, the company will be sanctioned in some way. These processes are not perfect, but they do exist.

Where is the governing body that Youtube is responsible to?

The more I think about this, the more I side with the court. (I don't think its about online anonymity - I think thats quite a big leap.)

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Grenade

Interesting side note

Google Execs are prosecuted by criminal lawyers (not the information body)

Criminal lawyers are paid by certain organisations to get them off after certain activities.

These activities include gathering a share of profits from almost everybody making money/trading in Italy.

Google, Ebay, etc. won’t pay money to criminal outfits in this way.

A random assortment of Google Execs end up court in Italy.

I’ll leave the conspiracy theory to you…

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Eh?

They removed the clip promptly after the complaints came, which was a month after it got put up.

Secondly, they surely got taken to court, not for failing to monitor the content that they put up but for revealing to the Italians who uploaded it? Surely, that's the real breach of privacy here?

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Badgers

Terrible news

I assume that means that all those slanderous passages and ascii-images that I was about to post would get El Reg a hefty fine in Italy?

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FAIL

Offensive

Who at Google gets to be the moral arbiter of all posted content?

What is offensive to some people isn't offensive to all (except, yes, in this case it is obviously offensive to all people of normal sensibilities).

A stupid verdict. As much as there is irony in it in some ways, it is still a massive precedent to set. They cannot reasonably police all user-posted content. It's kind of like suing the council for allowing a mugging to take place on their streets.

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Poor Diddums

How terrible that Google should be held accountable for what they propagate and profit from, not.

I have some sympathy where something little known about was lurking beneath the radar and would expect punishment to reflect that by way of mitigation. This however has all the hallmarks, real or imaginary, of Google rubbing their hands with glee and counting the cash with a 'no one's complained so far' attitude.

It's very likely that Google cannot monitor all its content but that doesn't mean it cannot monitor the most important and most widely propagated material. If Google doesn't know what it's being used for, what it's propagating, it perhaps shouldn't be doing it in the first place. Google cannot simply sidestep its moral and ethical duties or its legal obligations when they arise. Throw it out there, see what happens, publish and be damned, can get one into court. As Google have found.

Mine's the one with the footage of an Italian Judge giving a Google Exec a good kicking.

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Stop

Practical solution?

I have not seen the video (obviously, because I'm not the sort of cretin who enjoys that kind of thing) , but presumably this video must have some bullying related key words in the title?

Would a practical solution not to be to steer all searches for things like "happy slapping" or "bullying" towards the multitude of anti-happy-slapping and only-horrid-scum-bags-bully-people videos?

Or is this suppressing people's right to watch things that (I personally think) are disgusting or offensive.

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Badgers

screen some videos?

How many videos are posted to YouTube daily? Would it be possible to screen, say, 1 in 100 of the videos posted?

Concentrating on users with few posted videos (as you don't know them enough trust them not to post anything malicious/without-copyright-consent). Also screen users who's popularity has rocketed, inc ase they have posted some initial innocuous junk to start with, followed by the stuff they actually wanted to post.

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"...impossible to pre-screen..."

No it isn't - it's just expensive.

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FAIL

It's still on there

It's still there as obviously it got uploaded again. Just search for the keywords if you must.

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@swaygeo

banning words is not the way forward, they'll come up with new words for it.

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FAIL

I'm embarrassed for being Italian

Italy is no better than China, when it comes to freedom of speech. Italian government does not understand what internet is, what youtube is, what a search engine is. My English is not good enough to express what I think about this events and other ridiculous Italian laws, but what is clear to me is that the government would like to see internet become another TV, where people watch what the government approves, and no freedom is allowed.

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Not quite like the Post office

I see that a former UK Information Commissioner said that the case was ridiculous because "It is like prosecuting the post office for hate mail that is sent in the post". I think this analogy is flawed. The difference is that most postal material is hidden inside an envelope, and the Post Office has no way of knowing the contents. Material posted on the Internet is visible to all, so Google (or anyone else) is able to inspect the contents. It may not be commercially viable to do it, but it is far from impossible.

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Stop

Missing the Point

Hold on... it wasn't that this video wasn't considered suitable, it was that Google hadn't obtained permission from everyone in the video. That's a different kettle of fish, it's not about screening uploaded video for suitability, it's about people having to submit release forms with every YouTube upload - and that's really practical isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Get-Away-With-Murder Inc

There appears to be a perverse presumption that, whilst individuals should be punished for their illegal acts, the officers of Corporates, however, should not be accountable for crimes committed by the companies that they run.

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Anonymous Coward

Blame Google?

How can people blame Google for this? The Italian government is angry it can't control the media and now it's taking it out on Google. Sad really.

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Unhappy

I wonder

if Google had apologized to the family, implemented a review system for its most popular or favorited videos* and made a donation to Vivo Down if this would have been resolved? seriously.

*I'd hate to have that job

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to do with derivatives - move along now.

I suspect that if Google paid a little bit more Italian taxes then perhaps prosecutor Alfredo Robledo wouldn't have picked them as a proof-of-concept. The actual attack against Google came from the City of Milan and funnily enough they have been stitched to the tune of around €174 million, according to estimates by (Milan) council member Davide Corritore on the mark-to-market valuations for derivatives and it is prosecutor Alfredo Robledo who is trying to get four banks and 13 individuals to Italy for that case.

Quite funny really to see do-no-evil Google as target practice. It wouldn't have mattered if they developed a time machine and removed the video before it was uploaded, pissed holy water and showed signs of the stigmata - their fate was already decided.

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Anonymous Coward

Google failed - but innocent

If I were to make obscene phone calls it's me not the telecom provider up in front of the judge. Should telecom provider be held liable instead? in which case should they listen in to every phone call just in case? And since I'd not be able to view this video without the connection provided by my ISP isn't the ISP as culpable as Google?

Google HAVE failed but where they failed is not in failing to watch every rubbish video we upload. I believe the current rate is 24 hours worth of video uploaded every minute so they'd need a team of over 6000 "watchers". Let's pay them UK statutory minimum wage and it's "only" £60M a year - but then I'm ignoring overheads - premises, management, training etc and minimum wage workers may noty be the most dilligent - I'm guessing we'd end up around a quarter of a billion GBP p.a. for a system that worked.

Google can afford that, but Youtube can't. There is a view that buying Youtube was a mistake. It doesn't generate enough income to cover its costs so increasing the cost base might end up in Google throwing in the towel. Never mind, let Google cross subsidise from their other properties, their advertising revenue can bear the extra cost. But who pays for advertising? In the first instance the advertiser, but if it is effective YOU buy from the advertiser and part of the price you pay is a share of their advertising costs.

Given factors like world population of people with adequate disposable income, internet access, ability, age (either too young to have a credit card, to old to remember your own name) my rough estimate is that monitoring Youtube would cost you and I about £1 a month. Now let's see what other services we should be monitoring - what about all those photo hosting sites? What about websites in general? The perpetrators in this case could have just got hold of a bit of webspace and posted the video there - or maybe a few hundred hacked websites - or just copied it to their mates as an email attachment so obviously we need to monitor everything that anyone ever does involving the internet. Welcome to China!

Where Google fail is in their action when advised of inappropriate material. If all they do is delete it the problem won't be solved. They should invoke criminal action where applicable or else civil action against the offender for breach of Googles T&C. It would just need one high profile case, carefully selected so Google look like the good guys, chasing someone down for kiddie porn or such. Loads of publicity may make people think before they acted.

Not only the guy who posted the video should be sought out but also those featured in the video and so deletion is not appropriate, it may even be a criminal act of destroying evidence. The video needs passing to the (Italian?) authorities so they can catch the perpetrators, identify the victim and provide any support he may need.

After that some would just take a bit more effort to cover their tracks but at least Google would be seen to be taking action where they could. There's no doubt the video in this case would reappear elsewhere (probably has) but at the very least not as readily available just as the nastiest of porn is still out here (I'm told) but better hidden and only accessible to those "in the know" (hopefully including the authorities who are using it to identify and locate offenders and victims).

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Stop

Encore une fois

Look, sorry to repeat myself, but everyone still seems to be misunderstanding this story. I'ts not about Google monitoring for unsuitable content, it's about Google ensuring that everyone who appears in YouTube vidoes has given consent for the video to appear.

So you don't need 6,000 people at Google reviewing every YouTube submission - you need either:

a) To stipulate that model release forms be submitted with all YouTube uploads. Cue the end of YouTube.

or

b) When uploading, the uploader has to confirm that they have permission from everyone in the video to upload it. Yes, they can lie, but it shifts the onus onto the uploader. Not sure a court would accept this as a robust enough control by Google though.

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