So as we brace for whatever controls the South Dakota Legislature tries to impose on the blogosphere next, let's see what Google says about an alarming judicial ruling in Italy [cross-posted from my DSU blog].
Yesterday a Milan judge convicted three of four Google executives charged with violations of Italy's privacy code. In 2006, some punks posted a video of themselves bullying an autistic kid. Google removed the video when notified by Italian police, but the court still pressed charges against the Google employees. The Google guys got out of defamation charges, but Google says the convictions establish a criminal liability for Internet providers that could destroy the Web:
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. 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. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear [Matt Sucherman, "Serious Threat to the Web in Italy," Google Blog, 2010.02.24].
Google is appealing the convictions.