Google defamation trial postponed

The trial in Milan of Google employees on charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data has been postponed until 18 February.

The...

The trial in Milan of Google employees on charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data has been postponed until 18 February.

The International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP) quoted a former Italian prosecutor as saying procedural delays are common in such cases.

The charges follow a two-year investigation by Italian authorities into a three-minute video posted to Google's Italian website in which four teenagers make fun of a disabled classmate.

Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, chief legal officer David Drummond, former CFO George Reyes, and a former London-based Google Video executive face up to 36 months in prison if found guilty.

The trial will examine the degree to which Google is responsible for content supplied by users of its video posting service

Under EU legislation, internet service providers are not responsible for monitoring third-party content but they are required to remove content considered offensive if they receive a complaint.

Google removed the video within 24 hours of receiving complaints, but Milan public prosecutor Francesco Cajani decided that Google had broken the law by allowing the video onto its site.

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.

Google has slammed the trial as totally wrong, saying it is like prosecuting postal service workers for delivering a hate speech letter sent in the post.

The internet firm has said it will defend its employees because seeking to hold a neutral site liable for content posted on it is a direct attack on a free, open internet.

The trial, which is expected to last for months, is the first criminal charge against a privacy professional for his company's actions, according to the IAPP.

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