Conviction of Google execs signals call for content screening, says judge

The Italian judge who convicted three Google executives of violating the privacy of an autistic teenager who was bullied in a video posted on Google's Italian website in 2006, says content must be screened.

The Italian judge who convicted three Google executives of violating the privacy of an autistic teenager who was bullied in a video posted on Google's Italian website in 2006, says content must be screened.

Milan judge Oscar Magi said in his ruling, obtained by Associated Press, that the Google bosses bore responsibility because the firm tried to profit from advertising on the site where the video was posted.

"In simple words, it is not the writing on the wall that constitutes a crime for the owner of the wall, but its commercial exploitation can," Judge Magi wrote.

The three executives, including Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, were given six-month suspended sentences in February.

Google said it would appeal against the conviction because it attacks the principles of freedom on which the internet is built.

But Judge Magi said his decision should be interpreted as a requirement that internet service providers must screen the enormous amount of video that passes through their sites.

He said the trial should be read as an "important signal" that a danger zone is being reached for criminal responsibility for web masters, who should use technology to control content.

Observers said the case has disturbing implications for ISPs, which could be driven out of Italy by the difficult task of managing user-generated content.

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