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Call for jail terms over Google video

November 26, 2009

by Guy Dinmore

Published: November 26 2009

Italian prosecutors yesterday requested jail sentences of up to one year for four executives of Google.

The executives are on trial in Milan over the broadcasting on Google Video of footage showing a handicapped Italian boy being bullied by classmates.

The four executives are charged with criminal defamation against the disabled boy and with breaching the Italian privacy code. The trial could have significant implications for internet privacy and the future of video-sharing websites.

“The protection of fundamental rights cannot be trampled upon simply on the basis of the rights of the corporation,” the prosecutors said.

Separately, Milan city council and Vividown, an association for handicapped people, are seeking civil damages. Four boys were filmed at a Turin school in 2006 teasing another boy, who has Down’s syndrome. A mobile phone recording was uploaded to Google Video, where it was seen by thousands of users over two months before being removed by Google after the Italian government and police intervened.

Google says it removed the video as soon as it became aware of it, and that the group co-operated with investigators.

“Seeking to hold neutral platforms liable for content posted on them is a direct attack on a free, open internet and could spell the end of Web 2.0 in Italy. We will defend and support our employees,” Google said. The trial was adjourned until December 16.

Guy Dinmore, Rome

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