Italian privacy: Google officials convicted in video bullying case


In a landmark case, two managers and a former executive of Google have been found guilty of privacy violations by an Italian court. The ruling represents the first such conviction for employees of Google, and the internet giant has vowed to appeal the decision. The move could have wide-ranging implications for all websites in Italy that allow users to upload their own content.

Milan Judge Oscar Magi ruled that David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development, and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, as well as George Reyes, a former chief financial officer,were guilty of privacy violations. They were on trial on charges related to a clip uploaded to Google Video in 2006. The clip was created and posted on the Web by a group of Turin school students, who filmed themselves bullying a disabled classmate.


Google says it removed the video as soon as it was notified and helped Italian police identify those responsible. The video was in Google’s “funniest videos” category for almost two months, reaching 5,500 views, according to prosecution filings.

Drummond, Fleischer and Reyes were sentenced to six- month terms, which were suspended. Google said it will appeal “this astonishing decision.”

“The Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question,” Google said today in a blog posting. The ruling “attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence.”

Google’s blog post about the conviction can be found here:

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