Google Plans Rigorous Appeal of Executives’ Conviction in Italy

BY Hari Sreenivasan  February 24, 2010 at 7:07 PM EST

No one disputes that the Italian video — posted online in 2006 — showing a young man with Down syndrome being bullied was despicable. An organization working on behalf of people with Down syndrome complained to Google, which says it pulled the video off its site within hours.

Now years later, although the boy at the center of the case recently withdrew his name from a lawsuit, an Italian judge convicted three executives at Google for privacy violations. Google plans to appeal the conviction.

For more on the unique case — which some say could have a profound impact on free speech online — we spoke with Scott Rubin of Google, who told us: “It’s an astonishing decision by this judge, who has decided that anybody who works for any Web site with user-generated content … should be held criminally responsible for the content that’s uploaded to their sites.”

Listen to the interview with Rubin here:

and Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, who told us: “It’s a big deal because if this kind of thing goes on … some things like Google will have no choice but to filter for different countries and so you will have an emergence of a much more ‘Balkanized’ Internet.”

Listen to the interview with Wu here: