An Italian court has held three Google executives “criminally responsible” for the content of a (contemptible) online video.
What about the person who published the video in the first place by uploading it? I don’t see any action there. Isn’t that the act that compromised the identity and dignity of this person? But then, a prosecutor gets a lot more political mileage out of a high-profile defendant.
Clearly, Italian law (so far) supports the conclusion. But, just like the Amanda Knox case from last year, Italian law seems to follow the court of public opinion more than actual principles of justice.
While the Italian press gloats over taking down a “big corporation,” are they thinking about the precedent for them?
Are they totally accountable for the content of any ads that are taken out on their TV stations or in their newspapers? What if someone is offended by the product, or the tone of the ad? Could responsibility for the content be extended to the media that hosted it? They are one step closer.
How about comments in an online forum? Do they hold the host responsible? How about the person who owns the server? What about the utility company that owns the wires that carried the message into the home? They could be asking the same question about Google, for that matter.
The offensive video was viewed several thousand times before it was taken down. How about any sites or emails that had links to that video saying “Hey, look at this!” Are the people who wrote and sent those emails culpable? How about the email delivery system? After all, they delivered this content to others.
Why are none of the other agents of the infrastructure the target of prosecution?