The Italianist

Things That Happen in Italy

The Evil is in the Web

with 5 comments

An Italian judge has condemned three Google (ex)executives for violation of privacy laws. The case refers to the publication, in 2006, of a video showing four teenagers bullying a disabled fellow in a school in Turin. Details of the story can be found here.

The judge found the Google Three guilty of not removing the video immediately after it had been signalled. Google replied they actually did block it a few hours after being contacted by police. It is surprising that the judge chose to punish Google for ‘privacy’ violation, given that it is not a media like a TV channel, for example. The actual perpetrators of crime (the teenagers) have received 10-months community service punishment, and rightly so (they probably deserved more). But why punish Google? What’s its fault?? And why do these things happen in Italy for the first time?

Some suggestions can be found here, and some more here . One way to locate  this episode in a broader context is here.


Written by TheItalianist

25/02/2010 at 22:35

5 Responses

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  1. A shift in our society has occurred the past few years. We have gone from initially fearing the security of the internet to anything/everything goes, your nobody unless everything about you is transparent. There is little digital hygiene that is of any concern with many of the nets younger users. This is all they have known, so it must be safe, secure, and non-problematic. I don’t know where this all nets out for privacy and society. Caution is still necessary, storage is unlimited and cheaper by the day, and everything is connected.


    26/02/2010 at 01:37

    • Thanks for this. But do you think we should therefore ask for engine searchers to be punished? I think they bear no responsibility in cases like these: it’s the kids who deserve to be punished. Maybe if, as you say, there is little ‘hygiene’, that’s because (especially in Italy) there is very little effort devoted towards educating teenagers to use te net. In fact, the only thing you are supposed to do in Italy is to watch TV: internet is free, which means ‘non transparent’, non-controllable. The Government fears that, not the fact that images of kids being bullied at school get publicity. I think this case gets a different meaning once we locate it in the actual context of Italy.


      26/02/2010 at 10:02

  2. They may have removed it when contacted by the police. Hardly a surprise there/

    Acoording to the Daily Telegraph, it was the most viewed clip on Google Italy and was on there for 2 months. Are we really supposed to believe Youtube wasn’t aware of its existence and that no one complained about it. The sentence may seem harsh but these companies have been turning a blind eye to “happy slapping” videos for many years. They didn’t give a **** about the victims.

    luke neave

    01/03/2010 at 16:26

    • But we cannot expect that Google filter every single movie updated onto its website. As the condemned executives have declared, the amount of material that goes over Google is massive, to the point that it cannot be controlled. It also seems that they did remove the movie once they received a ‘complaint’ from the police. In my view, the fact that someone will abuse the service (in this case, the stupid kids who made the movie and then put it on the internet) does not mean that the service should be policed constantly. Also, as pointed out on, there seems to be a silent but growing attempt by the Italian Government to remove from youtube -more and more often- videos that are considered ‘unwelcome’. I fear that behind appeals to ‘privacy’ there might be a desire to block criticisms..


      02/03/2010 at 22:47

      • I am aware of what is happening in Italy with Mr Berlusconi and I can appreciate your sensitivity on the question of the media’s freedom.

        I don’t expect Youtube to be constantly policing their content. I accept there simply is too much of it and that the best way of dealing with it is for the Youtube community to police it themselves and bring vidoes of this kind to Youtube’s attention.

        That is what happened here, the video was flagged and Youtube did nothing which means they thought it was acceptable to leave it on there. The fact that they took it down when the police asked them to is to me no defence. Because that would mean that they only feel they have a responsibility to act when the authorities get involved.

        As ever we talk of rights but too little about responsibilities. Big business likes to portray itself as under attack to avoid its responsibilities.

        luke neave

        11/03/2010 at 16:09

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