An Italy appeals court acquitted three Google executives of 2010 charges
of having violated the privacy of an Italian boy with autism by letting
a video of him being bullied be posted on the site in 2006.
court's decision, in a public hearing, overturned a previous ruling in
2010 which had sentenced the executives to jail. Reasons for Friday's
decision will be made public in 60 days.
"We are very happy that
the earlier decision was not confirmed, and that the court of appeals
recognised the innocence of our colleagues," said Google policy manager
Giorgia Abeltino after the ruling was read.
"Our thoughts are with the boy and his family for the difficult moments they have endured."
students at a Turin school uploaded a mobile phone clip to Google Video
in 2006 showing them bullying the boy. The prosecutors accused Google
of negligence, saying the video remained online for two months even
though some Web users had already posted comments asking for it to be
In February 2010, a court gave each of the three
Google executives, none of whom were based in Italy, a six-month
suspended jail sentence. Google has said the executives had nothing to
do with the upload.
Senior vice-president and chief legal officer
David Drummond, former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes and
global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer had not faced actual
imprisonment as the sentences were suspended.
The complaint was brought by an Italian advocacy group for people with Down's Syndrome, Vivi Down, and the boy's father.
Down was a plaintiff because it was named by the boys in the video, a
lawyer for the group said. The boy had autism, not Down's, as widely
reported during the three years of the case.
Google had said it
had removed the video immediately after being notified and cooperated
with Italian authorities to help identify the bullies and bring them to
It said that, as hosting platforms that do not create
their own content, Google Video, YouTube and Facebook cannot be held
responsible for content that others upload.
© Thomson Reuters 2012