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Italian prosecutors seek jail for Google executives

Warwick Ashford

Italian prosecutors are seeking jail terms for Google executives charged in connection with a video posted on Google's Italian site. The video depicted a disabled boy being mocked.

The prosecutors are seeking sentences that range from six to 12 months, according to Reuters.

The video, filmed using a mobile phone and posted on the video sharing site in 2006, drew complaints from the victim's family and Italian advocacy group Vivi Down.

Italian prosecutors accused Google of having inadequate content filters and insufficient staff to monitor content.

Four current and former Google executives, including global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, are on trial for defamation and failing to have control over personal data.

Google said the case was "akin to prosecuting mail service employees for hate speech letters sent in the post."

Google has argued that the case hits at the heart of internet freedom, saying it is impossible for providers to check the thousands of videos uploaded every day.

But prosecutors said it was not an issue about freedom, but responsibility of companies and the need to safeguard fundamental rights takes priority over business.

The defamation trial has been postponed several times since it began in February. The trial only properly got underway in September.

The next hearing is scheduled for 16 December when Google lawyers will wrap up their defence. A verdict is expected in early 2010.

Standing in the dock are Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, chief legal officer David Drummond, former CFO George Reyes, and a former Google video executive.

Italy cracks down on web content >>


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