Italy Wants To Put Google Execs In Jail Over Uploaded Video

from the punish-whoever dept

Sometimes you hear about lawsuits that are so bizarre and so wrongheaded, you just have to shake your head and wonder what people are thinking. For example, take this news that Italian prosecutors are preparing to file criminal charges against four Google execs. Why? Not for anything Google, as a company, did. Or anything those executives actually did. But, because four kids filmed themselves taunting a disabled boy in a classroom and that film was uploaded to Google. The four kids in question are also facing criminal charges — which is perfectly reasonable.

But under what distorted sense of justice does one somehow have to have to think that Google executives also deserve criminal charges over this event?

The fact that the video was uploaded to Google gave the prosecutors the evidence necessary to go after the kids in question. Google, itself, had no proactive role in uploading the video. Neither Google, nor the executives in question, had anything to do with the video whatsoever. In fact, Google took the video down within hours of being alerted to it. It serves no viable purpose under any justice system whatsoever to charge Google executives for the content in the video. The report notes that the kids in the video hit the disabled boy with a pack of tissues as well. I would think that the tissue company has just as much, if not more, responsibility for the video than Google. Will we soon see charges against its execs as well?

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Comments on “Italy Wants To Put Google Execs In Jail Over Uploaded Video”

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77 Comments
Ben Smith says:

Re: Viva Italia!

Wow, that’s the most asinine attitude I’ve ever heard.

If you had any familiarity with how website technology and ethics work, you’d understand that holding a site owner responsible for user content could potentially destroy the internet as we know it today.

You might also realize that the internet crosses cultural boundaries, and YOU have to accept other cultural values as well.

But, hey, if you Italians want to ruin the web for everyone, please, go right ahead. The rest of the world will continue laughing at you for years to come.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Viva Italia!

> it would be nice to explain why “you Italians” is
> supposed to be an illuminated statement.

Not sure why you expect the statement to be illuminated. But an explanation of it is simple: you’re Italian, as are the rest of your countrymen, hence the use of the general “you”; you’re Italian, as are the rest of your countrymen, hence the use of the adjective “Italian”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Viva Italia!

So, in order to protect the precious Italian children’s eyes and their crippling economy, Google should just block all Italian IPs from accessing their servers.

There are many more offensive things to find on the internet than YouTube.

Google is a big easy target for little stupid Italian prosecutors because they do not know who else to blame.

william wallace says:

Re: Re: Viva Italia!

That pretty much sums it up. If the Italian government has a problem with online content they should look at stopping their peasants from accessing it. Not blocking it for the rest of the world. After all, I think stadium cheese is destroying cultures all over the world, including my own, but I am not trying to put a stop to its global production. After all, the birthrate in Italy is declining so fast pretty soon it wont matter what those egocentric world-police demand be enforced upon the rest of us.

Pinky Floyd says:

Re: Viva Italia!

The last time I visited Rome..It was a dump..I’m sure it still is. I saw rats nearly the size of cats in the street. Nonwhithstanding..Why doesn’t Italy do everyone a favor and just get rid of the Internet? Start your own Intranet with only Italian websites??

/your women are hairy as some men I have seen..Go tell them to shave their faces..

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, clearly they're guilty

And so is the company that manufactured the video camera, and the ISP that provided internet access, and the bus company that shuttled the little jerkwads to school, the construction company that built the school, and the company that manufactured the furniture. Obviously, they all colluded to entice these boys onto this behavior.

moore850 (profile) says:

legality filter

What’s wrong with delaying public display of videos until they are reviewed for legality? I don’t see why all videos have to get posted, then only later when enough people are outraged does google have to take it down. It seems they bear some responsibility for making visible the illegal activities without checking first to see if there were any illegal activities in the video. Google could have forwarded the video to the proper authorities without ever making it public, which would have cut off the perpetrators from their sick search for infamy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: legality filter

If people can’t even filter themselves before they utter stupidity on a message board how is it that Google is suppose to filter/censor thousands upon thousands of videos per day to appease the sensitive mental states of those in another country using a service made in the USA. Oh wait we try really hard NOT TO DO THAT HERE.

Xan says:

Re: legality filter

Other than the fact that it would be impossible for Google to review all videos for legality, there is another problem. Which countries laws do you base the “legality” on? What if it is legal in the US, France, Italy, etc. but not in China or Pakistan or Sri Lanka? Google can’t allow a video to be uploaded for fear of being prosecuted in Ghana?

Your Gawd and Master says:

Re: legality filter

Ha! Yeah, that’s a great idea if you’re too stupid to understand the math, or unable to conceive of the fact that in some cases people are going to be offended at something that YOU don’t think is a big deal at all. Like calling you a fucktard, I don’t have a problem with that as an accurate and descriptive label for you, so why should you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: legality filter

Because in the USA we have the thing called ‘Freedom of Speech’, you can’t be censored just because you say something reprehensible.

How would Google know the video wasn’t staged? It wouldn’t be the first time someone pulled a video hoax. Who determines what is free speech and expression and what is depictions of actual illegal activity? Do you really want an army of lawyers censoring everything on the internet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: legality filter

and it wouldn’t have gotten posted because of the fear of offending someone.

Wheres the law that said you are entitled not to be offended by words?

oh, wait, we’re talking about Europe….that bastion of freedom that jails people for disputing anything relating to the holocaust not OK’d by the JDL or Israel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: legality filter

Your suggestion is impractical. In Italy alone 200,000 videos are uploaded to Google each day. Assume that each video is 3-5 minutes long one reviewer working an 8 hour shift could only review about 100 videos. Google would have to hire over 2,000 additional employees to handle this.

Stock photography sites do review uploads for quality of content and subject matter. These sites can take up to a month or more before an upload gets through the review queue. Is this what users expect from sites like Google Video, YouTube and Flickr?

dorpus says:

Youtube Eulogy

If thousands of foreign courts sue Google, will Google hire millions of international lawyers to defend the baby boomer obsession with “freedom of speech”? Or will there come a time when Google executives care more about paying the mortgage on their tacky Spanish villas in the hills of Silicon Valley?

No, Google cannot afford to make itself a shooting target as large as the Earth. It will celebrate its “spin-offs” by breaking up into hundreds of little companies, while search engine technology will become a generic commodity that is maintained locally.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Youtube Eulogy

If thousands of foreign courts sue Google, will Google hire millions of international lawyers to defend the baby boomer obsession with “freedom of speech”?

Come back after your sixth birthday, you poor, crippled moron. Freedom of speech is not a “baby boomer obsession,” but rather a Constitutionally protected right. But they don’t teach about the Constitution in pre-school, do they? When you’re older, say in the fifth grade, maybe you’ll be smart enough to take a civics class, where they’ll explain to you about the Constitution, and other abstract concepts, like rights.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Youtube Eulogy

Come back after your sixth birthday, you poor, crippled moron. Freedom of speech is not a “baby boomer obsession,” but rather a Constitutionally protected right. But they don’t teach about the Constitution in pre-school, do they? When you’re older, say in the fifth grade, maybe you’ll be smart enough to take a civics class, where they’ll explain to you about the Constitution, and other abstract concepts, like rights.

Do Google executives care more about abstract rights, or paying the rent in Silicon Valley? Or should Google executives attend fifth grade classes on Italian civics?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Youtube Eulogy

> But they don’t teach about the Constitution
> in pre-school, do they?

Unfortunately they don’t seem to be teaching about the Constitution in public schools of any level these days.

Kids can instantly identify Nelson Mandela and Jesse Jackson but they can’t pick Thomas Jefferson out of a photo line-up to save their lives.

Cutter892 says:

Re: Re: Re: Youtube Eulogy

It’s simple. The liberal socialist’s want are kids to be ignorant and stupid of there rights and freedoms. Then later on in life when they don’t have the tools to help themselves, or understand what the government can and can not do these same people can step in and go “Vote for me! I will take care of all of your problems.”. That is how people like Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini got into power. They feed off of the peoples fears and ignorance to get themselves into power.
/On topic
The only people that are responsible for the actions of the over developed DNA shots are the kids, and there parents. It’s just nice to see that they where stupid enough to record and upload it so they could get caught. I hope they get there butt’s tanned good then maybe they thing about what they did.

Unseen says:

It is surely their fault....

The people elect the goverment to run the country, so surely they are wholey responsiable for everything that happens in the country..so arrest the goverment…and then the isp, and then the engineer who installed the line and then the person who made the camera which videoed the incident and then the tissue company and then the kids parents for not raising them properly, and then there grandparents for not raising the parents to raise the kids properly and so on….ridiculous waste of time and money as far as i can see, but if it stops them being bored….

dorpus says:

Religious Freedom on the Decline

It should be noted that on a worldwide basis, religious freedom is decreasing.

http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?source=hptextfeature&story_id=11784873

When these courts sue Google for “religious aggression”, is Google going to spend billions on lawyers and lobbyists to demand that laws in other countries be changed? Not a chance.

Alimas says:

Re: Religious Freedom on the Decline

You have successfully failed at arguing and common sense.
You’ve also failed at earning any respect, as having completely lost the argument of this blog post’s topic you have dived into trying to make another point you think makes some sort of moral statement.

Unfortunately, you fail again as your new case is just as dumb as your last one.

The reason Google Exec.’s, Bill Gates and others the money and potential desire to do so haven’t/won’t hired lobbyists to change religiously aggressive laws in nations around the world is because religious aggression is a societal/cultural problem before a legal one.
You change then environment, not the laws, first.
And whether or not they do so, or want to is completely irrelevant to the points in here.

Federico Cáceres says:

One thay...

One thay, all content will be moderated BEFORE being published on the web. Google (and all other big internet companies) will hire hundrends of people who will spend most of the day checking every newly uploaded video to see if it has any inapropiate content. Of course, once the video is approved, the video’s page will say “This video has been approved by Google Inspector #21231”. Sue the inspector if anything goes wrong.

Or they could develop some interesting algorithms to detect faulty images and language (they already are indexing voice in some videos… who knows how much time it’ll take them to accomplish a full blown “let’s allow a machine to understand the whole video” ai?)… AI.Google.com.

Anyways, I’m not so sure suing the excecs makes any sense. What is the purpose of such action? Now, if they dissmised the video alerts, and just left it online…. That would have made sense.

Gguy says:

Public Service

Nailed it! YouTube’s a service! Whether people use it for good, bad, or ignorant intentions, it is a side note. First and formost, it is audio/video documentation. If people want to DOCUMENT themselves committing crimes, making fools of themselves, etc.. for their 15 minutes, let them and wait on how the laws, and societies of each country respond as they will. YouTube does not pay people to produce the content, and they don’t pay people to watch it. It gathers and displays the content it; then entertains and/or INFORMS.

realistic says:

who cares what you think

don’t get me wrong, I’m 2nd generation Italian/American… but the simple fact is, AMERICA CREATED THE DAMN INTERNET. we say what goes, by whom/where/why and when. if it offends you or is illegal in your country, it should be blocked. the internet is about freely sharing ALL information, regardless if it offends you or me!

censorship destroys innovation and progress.

Benjie says:

Communication Medium

The internet is a communication medium, just like air/radio/cans-with-strings.

To make an anology, the internet is air and google is a large stadium, except this stadium is omi-present throughout all air and has no physical size and can overlap with other stadiums without issues.

Having google ‘filter’ all that each person says in their stadium before they say it, seems like an issue. Sure, if you ‘overhear’ what someone says, you can report it, but to have a person look over every word is impractical.

Disco_Mojo says:

Not sure if this was mentioned

From what I can see here in this case…if it weren’t for Google and the ability to upload a video to their servers, this video may never have even been seen by law enforcement. Had Google’s service not been available, the swift legal retrobution that these little ba$tardS deserve may never have been executed (certainly when considering statutes of limitations on such acts).

BTW Italia you need to catch up on recent news as this is very similar to Ebay’s recent win over Tiffany & Co. Ebay cannot be held responsible for the contents of the auctions anymore than Google can be held responsible for the contents of it’s video servers.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate people who work to the best of their ability too, but....

I think everyone with a youtube account is several more times responsible for what goes on youtube that shouldn’t. I mean, even the newest, crappiest, and most pointless of all videos has a minimum of 300 views by the end of the day. Had those 300 viewers pressed the button to report the video as inappropriate content, google would be capable of taking all the right videos down. Those people that google can’t afford to hire to do this is us, and we’re expected to do it for free the way wiki services have the same expectations.

Try to understand, it’s not the 10 people who read internal google alerts and press delete on videos they then review that are to blame. In fact blaming them doesn’t even make them do a better job, or get more people on their team to help. Blame the world for not voluntarily taking a second out of their time to flag the video they just watched, if it deserves flagging.

Overcast says:

Just because Yankees live in a culture of avoiding responsibility does not mean others will agree. In other cultures, responsibility is shared in groups.

Fair enough.

Don’t forget to exclude others: The ISP’s who routed the traffic, the Government (or Government agency) that authorizes internet in the country, the company who produced the copper wire and insulation that the data traveled over, the company who mined the copper that was used in the making of the wire. The PC manufacturer, as well as the company’s the provided the chips, circuit boards, data storage, network connectivity and other required services to access the internet. The power company that provided power to the servers and client in question, the company that provides the power company with coal or other fuels to generate power. The company who makes the generators, along with the companies that make the control, cooling, and other systems required to power the servers, switches, routers, and such. The maker of the Operating Systems the data was hosted on.

This could almost literally go on for pages and pages.

Andy (profile) says:

Incredible hypocrisy

This from a country which thinks it is a good idea to grant immunity from prosecution to it’s highest ranking politicians, not least among which is arch-dubious character Silvio Berlusconi and has enacted a law to this end???!! People of Italy, you have truly lost your way!

Keeping on-topic, the people to deal with here are the obnoxious brats who taunted the kid, who won’t be too hard to find given that they publicised themselves in such an obvious way, and perhaps their parents who might be held accountable for raising such idiots!

American Justice or just plain justice says:

What about the parents?

Something is wrong in the house that hasn’t effectively taught their children to honor others, who are different from themselves. This has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with a lack of guidance. Yes the children need to be held responsible, but so do the parents of those children.

Shane says:

What’s everyone worried about. This isn’t going to see the light day. Berlusconi is going to get greased as he usually does. And that’s going to be the end of that 😉 “I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse”

Berlusconi has been charged with mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. He’s good though – never gone to jail.

If Google Exec’s go to jail, I’ll flip the bill!

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

European countries, like Italy and France, just seem to have it out to go against any American business, especially one that has become so successful so quickly and is loved by many like Google.

Problem is, every time a government tries to go against Google in some way, people get really, really pissed off. They keep targeting Google for understanding the new business world, and yet, too stupid to just do what they do, which is doing things right.

wguru says:

Bias, bias, bias.

The publishers and even the defendants themselves lend additional charges consisting of unlawful disclosure of a minor’s identity, details of patient privacy, supports bias, reverse discrimination and even malicious prosecution. With respect to criminal charges, even simple assault seems questionable. As for torture and/or terrorism, unless premeditation is shown, those too questionably apply. As for any civil judgment resulting from the incident and resultant disclosures, the fact that the school and parents assumed the risk of subjecting the patient to expectable persecution, mitigates much if not all punitive damages, plus opens the door for a counter lawsuit by the defendant’s Barrister(s). Comments contained herein in no way constitute legal advice, more than personal opinion and/or infers no more than satirical commentary on empirical hypo racy.

EdwardEh (profile) says:

Italy sues Google!?

Thankfully, Italy isn’t picking on a pipsqueak. Could this be another chapter in the Burlesque-owni attempt to cripple the internet in Italy?

I was afraid of exactly this more than 15 years ago but believed it would be purely political rather than a personal vendetta by a Machiavellian narcissist. Let’s hope Google fights ‘tooth and nail’, after all the internet is the blood and guts of Google.

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