Four Google executives are to appear before an Italian court tomorrow in a trial that could affect the future of online video-sharing services.
The trial, which has been delayed several times after it began February, relates to a video posted on Google's Italian video sharing website in 2006 of four teenagers mocking a disabled classmate.
The video was viewed thousands of times over a two-month period before being removed by Google after the Italian government and police intervened.
After a two-year investigation, Italian authorities charged the four Google executives with failing to protect personal data.
Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, chief legal officer David Drummond, former CFO George Reyes, and a former Google Video executive face up to 36 months in prison if found guilty.
The Milan court hearing the case is expected to rule on the degree to which Google is responsible for content supplied by users of its video service.
Italian prosecutor Francesco Cajani has argued that Google violated the boy's privacy by failing to prevent the video from being posted on its website.
Google's defence has been that it removed the video as soon as the company became aware of it and has co-operated with investigators in identifying the four boys involved.
Google is being prosecuted as an internet content provider and, unlike service providers, Italian law states that content providers are responsible for third-party content.
The same law regulates Italian newspaper and television publishers, but Google says the internet is more like a tool than a publication and the company cannot be blamed for how it is used.
According to legal and privacy experts, the outcome of the trial could result in new rules for how video-sharing websites are allowed to operate.