Prosecutors Want Jail for Google Execs

Stephen Yagielowicz
MILAN — Italian prosecutors are reportedly asking for jail sentences ranging from six to 12 months for four Google executives charged over a video posted on the company's Italian website.

Google is accused of not employing adequate content filters or sufficient staff to monitor the video and other content that users are posting to its site.

The video, which had been shot with a mobile device and uploaded to the website in 2006, shows a boy with Down's Syndrome being teased. The boy's family objected to what they saw as defamation and a lack of control over the material being posted to the website, as did Vivi Down, a support group for families living with Down's Syndrome.

"This prosecution is akin to prosecuting mail service employees for hate speech letters sent in the post," a Google spokesperson stated. "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."

Facing jail time are Google's senior vice-president and chief legal officer David Drummond, former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes, senior product marketing manager Arvind Desikan and global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer.

While Google maintains that the issue revolves around freedom of the Internet and claims that it is impossible to review the thousands of videos that are uploaded daily, prosecutors disagree, denying that the case is about freedom, and instead portraying it as a basic issue of corporate responsibility and the need to protect human rights rather than business needs.

Google attorneys are scheduled to conclude their defense on December 16, with a verdict expected early next year.