Google accused in Italy over shock video

By EDRi · December 6, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A recent shock video published at the end of November on YouTube, the free
video hosting service now owned by Google, has triggered extensive reactions
in Italy. The video was showing a group of four Italian teenagers attacking
a 17-year-old disabled boy in a classroom in Turin. The attackers also made
a video of their actions that was posted on YouTube.

Although Google had deleted the movie as soon as they were informed about
it, the Italian Police has opened a criminal proceeding against Google – the
Italian subsidiary. The action included a police raid on the Milan offices
of Google.

Google Italy has confirmed that the videos published by the users go online
automatically and there is no editorial preventive filter from their part.
They have also claimed that they delete all the videos that are contrary to
their policy or have illegal content, but they rely mostly on their
community to signal the illegal content. Google’s spokeswoman Rachel
Whetstone said: “We’ve been helping Italian police with the investigation
and we’re happy to cooperate.”

However, the Milan prosecutors have started a criminal case against two
employees of Google Italy, considering they were responsible for not
checking the content of that video before it went online. In this case
Google was treated as an Internet content provider, and, according to
law 62/2001 and art. 57 Penal Code, the webmaster is responsible
also for the third party actions and has also journalistic responsibility
to avoid “committing illegal acts”.

It is interesting that the prosecutors did not consider Google as a hosting
provider and did not apply the Italian law 39/2002 that implemented the
European Directive 2001/31/EC on electronic commerce. According to this law,
there isn’t a general obligation of preventive surveillance for Internet
providers, and only in the case of a decision of an authority, they should
remove or make specific content unavailable.

EDRi-member ALCEI has pointed out that there are important comments to take
into consideration such as ” the responsibility of parents and educators,
the widespread deterioration of human and social values, the warping of
culture and behavior. ” At the same time it has highlighted that some
people are using this opportunity to control free speech:

“They are “blaming” the internet for this awful episode – while it is
obvious that the disgusting idea of placing a video online provided a tool
for finding and persecuting the perpetrators, who otherwise would have
probably remained unidentified and uncontrolled. Political spokesmen (of
different parties across the “partisan” spectrum) are demanding or
suggesting new laws and regulations, apparently including and obligation to
obtain “written approval” by parents for minors to use the internet, but
also to increase censorship, filtering and control by providers. ”

Italy’s Minister of Education, Giuseppe Fioroni, considered the prosecutors
had correctly applied to the Internet the same legislation regulating
what can be published in newspapers or broadcast on television.

The outcome of the legal action against Google is not yet certain, but some
legal experts in Italy doubt its success. However, the main problem is
setting one more nasty precedent for Internet provider – responsibility and
control on user content. In one word – censorship.

The “Google case” in Italy: one more excuse for censorship and repression

ALCEI Press Release Nov. 26, 2006

Not only the Google case (In Italian only, 27.11.2006)

Shock video against a disabled teen. A European directive could help Google
(In Italian only, 28.11.2006)

Interlex no 353 The Internetfobia strikes again with absurd legislative
proposals (In Italian only, 28.11.2006)

(Thanks to EDRI-member ALCEI )