2012 has been the year of lawsuits for the giants in the technology giants. The Apple vs. Samsung and Microsoft vs. Motorola trials have been hogging the headlines for many months now. One of the low-profile cases was lodged against three Google executives in Milan, Italy way back in 2006. The case, pertaining to privacy law violations, got the three executive convicted a couple of years back. Now, the three have won their appeal and their convictions were overturned by the court.
The Case Background
The case had been lodged against Google after a video which showing a group of teenagers beating up their classmate was uploaded to Google Video Italia. It was discovered that the teen being beat up by his classmates was autistic. From the moment the video was uploaded, it caused a furor on the internet and many people complained about it right away. Eventually, Google had to pull it down. The video hadn’t been on the site for even 24 hours.
However, the court at the time had felt that the company had been ‘too slow’ in taking the video off the website. This was the main reason why the three Google executives had been convicted. The three executives include former CFO George Reyes, Chief Legal Officer David Drummond and Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer. The three had been sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence. It wasn’t the sentence but its possible implications which convinced them to appeal the decision.
A Dangerous Precedent
From the moment the verdict had been passed, there were murmurs around the industry that it could set a dangerous precedent. In this day and age, most websites like Google depend on the users to upload content keeping in line with the rules which have been prescribed. It is not possible for them to keep an eye on each and every piece of content uploaded. Same is the case with websites like YouTube and Facebook whose executives could have encountered a similar fate to the Google executives.
The general practice followed by the websites in this regard is that they hardly ever check what is being posted or uploaded. Only if the content is found to be violating the rules or is complained about do they take any notice. In most cases, the company is the subject of lawsuits and trials. The Milan video case has been an exception in the sense that specific executives within Google were targeted and convicted.
Verdict Finally Overturned
Google had maintained a strong position that it did not intend to review any content before it is posted. Some of the industry bigwigs had also stated that the case and its verdict could threaten internet freedom in Italy. In its defense, Google had also stated that they had acted swiftly to the complaints being made to them regarding the video. They had taken the video off the website as soon as they possibly could.
As of now, the court’s verdict has not been made public and it could be a few weeks before the world gets to know why the original decision was overturned.