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Milan prosecutors seek prison sentences for Google execs

Philip Willan | Nov. 26, 2009
Milan prosecutors Wednesday (25 Nov) sought prison sentences ranging from six months to one year for four Google executives accused of violating Italy's privacy laws over the posting of a video showing the bullying of a handicapped teenage boy.

The delay in removing the offensive video was the result of a failure to apply to the right authority, Pisapia said. When the complaint reached Google Inc., which controlled Google Video, the video was removed within hours, he said. "The first complaint went to the wrong address, so the people who had the power to remove it were unaware of the problem."

Italian law does not lay any responsibility on hosting providers to monitor the content they upload onto Internet, Pisapia said. "Their only responsibility, established under a 2003 law, is to remove content when ordered to do so by the judicial authorities."

Guido Camera, a lawyer representing the interests of Vivi Down, the association that originally drew attention to the existence of the video, said the prosecutors had underscored the organizational failures at Google that had contributed to the privacy abuse.

"There should have been a flagging system at work. There were numerous complaints, but the video was still not removed," Camera said in a telephone interview. "No one wants to crucify Google, but to establish whether fundamental privacy rights -- the habeas corpus of the future -- are being adequately protected."

Google's defense lawyers will have the opportunity to reply to the prosecutors at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 16, and a verdict is expected in January.

 

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