Italian court overturns Google convictions
MILAN (AP) — An Italian appeals court on Friday overturned the convictions of three Google executives found criminally responsible for a video on a Google site that showed a disabled teen being bullied.
Google said it was "delighted" with the appellate ruling that cleared the executives and removed uncertainty in Italy over the Internet giant's business model.
The original verdict raised alarms that Web-based platforms could be forced to police their content in Italy and perhaps beyond, while putting European privacy concerns at odds with the freewheeling nature of the Internet.
A lower court in 2010 convicted the three of privacy violations for a 2006 video posted on Google Video, a video-sharing service Google ran before the company acquired YouTube later that year.
None of the executives charged in the case were in any way involved in the creation or posting of the video and Google said they took it down within two hours of being notified by authorities.
Google, in its final arguments before the court, noted 72 hours of video is posted on YouTube every minute — a quantity that would be impossible to preview. That has multiplied from 20 hours of video a minute at the time of the initial verdict.
The appellate ruling throws out the convictions and six-month suspended sentences against Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, its senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond and retired chief financial officer George Reyes.
"We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared," Giorgia Abeltino, policy manager at Google Italy said in a statement. "Of course, while we are delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family, who have been through the ordeal."