Came across an article this morning about how Google execs in Italy are being held accountable for videos that users post online…
“Word comes this morning that a jury in Italy has convicted a trio of Google employees over the brief posting of a video that showed four boys bullying another child who has Down’s Syndrome. The employees received suspended six-month sentences.” (source: http://www.thestandard.com/news/2010/02/24/conviction-google-execs-italy-shear-madness)
After reading this article, twice, lots of questions were bouncing around in my noggin. How is it that employees of a company can be held personally liable? They did not create the video. They did not bully the kid. I really don’t think that this verdict will stand for long, don’t see how it can. As more countries and governments work on adjusting to the new ways information is spread and people communicate, for good or bad, slapping verdicts on innocent employees only make it worse in the end. Here is Google’s response from the International Business Times:
“In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload,” said Matt Sucherman, Google’s Deputy General Counsel. “Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming.” Google said on Wednesday that a ruling against its top Italian executives attacks the “principles of freedom” of the Internet and poses a serious threat to the Web.
Common sense indeed. Shifting blame to a platform is not an answer. To sum it up, the original author said it pretty well:
Lest anyone question my sympathies for the bullied boy, let me note – despite believing it wholly unnecessary under these circumstances – that I am the father of an 8-year-old autistic boy. Were my son bullied in this fashion, I would be incensed and expect consequences for those responsible. The four boys who were responsible in the Italian case were expelled from school. That’s justice.
Google was not any more responsible here than the postal service would be for delivering a ransom note.
Ever hear the term ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’? Interested to see how this plays out.