Italian ruling against Google could aid traditional media

Traditional media companies check content before publication and that's what online media companies might now need to do...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

Sam Diaz writes about the Italian court ruling that:

...has convicted two Google employees and a former employee for non-compliance of the Italian privacy code over a video that was uploaded to Google Video in late 2006. A fourth employee also faced charges but was not convicted.
In the video, students filmed and uploaded a clip of them bullying an autistic classmate.
...With its ruling, the Italian courts are basically holding hosting platforms - like Google Video - criminally responsible for the content that users upload.

Holding Internet companies responsible. What a concept! We insist that all our other institutions shoulder some social responsibility. Would a newspaper broadcast such a video? No, it would not.

Why should online media companies be allowed to host and broadcast anything? Traditional media organizations have large editorial teams to check the content before publication. That's an expensive process but it's a responsible one.

Why should online media companies such as Google video be exempt from that?

The Italian ruling is an extreme one and unlikely to stand because it would put the Italian Internet sector out of step with the rest of the world. But it does show the advantages of having a professional media organization that checks and edits content before it is posted.

A professional media organization would not have repeatedly broadcast a video of a disabled boy being bullied. But Google didn't see anything wrong with that, even when, as The Guardian reported, the video "had shot to the top of the most-viewed list and been a subject of heated controversy."

Yes, the ruling is over the top but let's not forget that Google should bear some social responsibility. And if that means hiring people to stay on top of these types of videos being uploaded, then it should do it.

It's a bit much for Google to argue that this ruling "attacks the very principles of freedom on which the internet is built."

The freedom to broadcast the video of a disabled boy being beaten and insulted? Really?

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