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Does Google Think It’s Above the Law?

Before I get into this post, let me state that I believe the ruling in Italy is absurd.

What am I talking about?

Well a case, which has been in the hands of an Italian court for over 3 years, has just come to a conclusion–and 3 Google executives have just been sentenced to 6 months of jail time for invasion of privacy.

According to Reuters

…a Milan court has convicted three Google Inc executives for the 2006 transmission of a video showing the bullying of a youth with Down’s syndrome, the judge in the case told Reuters on Wednesday…The case stems from an incident in 2006 when students at an Italian school filmed and then uploaded a clip to Google Video showing them bullying a schoolmate with Down’s syndrome.

The video was horrible, the person that captured and uploaded it surely is the person that most people would say should face jail time, but the law is the law, right? If you do business in a country, you should obey their laws and respect their judicial system, right? After all, this is Italy, not China!

Well, Google appears to be doing everything it can to get this ruling overturned.

We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question. Throughout this long process, they have displayed admirable grace and fortitude. It is outrageous that they have been subjected to a trial at all.

I hear you Google. You should appeal it, but should you also publicly criticize a country’s legal system? A country you have been making money from for the past decade? What if that ruling had been in the UK or Canada? What if it had been handed down by one of our own courts? Would you still attempt to move this from a legal court to the court of public opinion?

I’m curious to hear what you Pilgrims think about this. Feel free to debate the ruling, but I’m curious if you think Google’s post portrays a company that feels it is above the law.

  • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

    OK, Google’s message was crafted by lawyers so it’s probably just business as usual. Everyone’s innocent. Just ask everyone in jail. I guess if you don’t marginalize the process you have less of a chance of having the court of public opinion view things your way regardless of what happens in “the system”. This is why lawyers are held in such high esteem ;-)
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..A Classic SMB Internet Marketing Story – Our Friends’ Closet =-.

  • http://www.wrldtours.blogspot.com engineer

    its just business as far as i think . . .

  • http://thestoppedclock.blogspot.com/ Aaron

    Heck – I’ve argued that laws and court decisions in my own country are absurd, incorrect, and/or unconstitutional.

    I would not be at all surprised if it is considerably more common in the U.S. than in Italy for business interests to try to shift public policy issues out of the courts and legislatures and into the “court of public opinion”.
    .-= Aaron´s last blog ..Um… Do I Smell Bad? =-.

  • http://www.industrialpartfinder.com Greg Campbell

    Does Google feel they are above the law? They may, but not based on this post. As others have stated, everyone is “not guilty” (note that I didn’t say “innocent”).

    An appeals system, at least in this county, can be used to change the interpretation of laws. I don’t know about Italy, but a challenge to a law may get it changed.

    But you are also right: if you do business in a country, you need to abide by their laws.

  • http://www.aodmarketing.com Oggy

    I don’t see what is wrong with criticizing a country’s legal system. Infact I think NOT doing it is cowardly. If no one stands up to what they think is right, then humanity would have remained in dictatorial governments… monarchies and totalitarianism.

    I encourage Google to appeal to this ridiculous sentence, and I commend them for publicly stating that it is in fact a serious threat to not only the web in Italy… but every counrty in the world. If Italy sets a bad example like this, many “like minded” politicians in other countries will believe they can do the same.

    I understand that everyone wants to bash Google since it has become so big, but in this particular case, I don’t think Google acted in any immoral or devious way. Today, with that blog post, Google abided its “Do no Evil” clause.
    .-= Oggy´s last blog ..Hey Google: 10 Reasons to Give Me a Wave Invite =-.

  • Pingback: Google Execs Sentenced To 6 Months Italian Jail for Privacy Breach | Collaborating Entrepreneur

  • Karla

    I don’t see where they criticized Italy’s legal system. They (the lawyer who wrote their statement) disagreed with the ruling. And they cite the European Union law, which they followed by taking it down as soon as they knew about it. Do you really think ISPs should be criminally responsible for content that users upload? Good luck finding a hosting provider if that happens in the US.

  • http://arcanasphere.com/blog/ AndrewJ

    I think it’s not an unreasonable argument.

    What if a person decided that he didn’t like a particular blogger then filled the blog’s comments with hate speech? Maybe the offender would target a random third person and post that person’s private information into the comments of the blog. Should the blogger in question go to jail with the creep in question?
    .-= AndrewJ´s last blog ..On the other hand… =-.

  • http://www.TorranceToyota.com Jason

    I don’t believe there is anything wrong with their approach at all. If there is a law which is created by a representative government which is, to your average observer, obviously not right, the solution is to put it in front of the citizens that that government represents, so that they can communicate to their representatives that they disagree with the law and wish it to be changed, removed, or whatever.

    Google HAS been complying with the laws, or the trial would not have been going on for 3 years. The fact that they are trying to get a law changed does not make them “above the law”, any more than it does for people pushing for more liberty, or lower taxes, or anything else that is outside the current law.

  • Jesse Laffen

    Does it matter whether it’s Italy or China? Google has made it very clear that they believe they can play some kind of ‘greater western opinion’ trump card whenever they feel it may help.

    Not saying I agree with Chinese censorship, but it’s evident in that country, and to a lesser extent in Italy that they do, in fact, view themselves as privileged enough to exercise some kind of legal flexibility wherever they operate.

    Let’s hope those condos in Mountain View get built soon.

    • http://techcrunchies.com Anand

      So what do you suggest when you feel one of your employees is being unfairly convicted?
      .-= Anand´s last blog ..List Of Oldest Domain Names (.COM) =-.

  • http://techcrunchies.com Anand

    I’m not sure if you interpreted Google’s blog post as the way the company ‘appeals against this decision’ ..Of course, they are appealing in Italy’s court of law and that makes them admirable “citizens” of the country..

    I don’t understand which part of this whole episode are you uncomfortable with..The blog post?
    .-= Anand´s last blog ..List Of Oldest Domain Names (.COM) =-.

  • http://digitivity.org Digitivity

    I think the reason Italy may get indignant is because the thinking is that it’s OK to call China overbearing and censorious, but not a European country.

    I do think Google think it should be above the law that applies to brick-and-mortar establishments. In one sense, I’d like to agree. It’s a question of keeping the Internet free.

    Maybe Google shouldn’t have any subsidiaries, and it should just run it’s international sites from the US, possibly as a subdomain of google.com.

  • http://www.users.on.net/~edward9958/ewm.pdf Edward Metcalfe

    Speaking out about what you don’t like is part of democracy. People do it all the time, not just Google. Yes, I think this decision is absurd and threatens internet freedom.