Updated: Google's Italian problem has a Korean solution...

Google could apply its Korean solution. The Internet is borderless, but a country's laws are not...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

Google could simply thumb its nose at the Italian courts and do what it did last year in South Korea.

A new law forced Google to collect the real names of Koreans uploading videos or commenting online. But Google didn't want to do that, it supported freedom of self expression on the Internet, plus it didn't want the administrative headache of collecting all of that information, that would raise cost of doing business in South Korea.

On the day the law came into effect, Google simply switched off the comments and blocked the ability for people to upload videos to its Korean YouTube site.

But Koreans were still allowed to upload video to YouTube sites in neighboring countries.

It was a neat way for Google to show the limits of governments and their courts. They are powerless outside of their borders, while the Internet is unbound by geography. The Korean government wasn't too pleased about it but what the heck, Google's business footprint in that country isn't very significant.

As it did in South Korea, Google could apply a similar strategy to its Italian problem. It could stop Italians from uploading videos to any YouTube servers in Italy. But they could still upload to YouTube sites in neighboring countries.

Yes, Google execs could be sentenced in absentia by the Italian courts, as they were in this most recent case. But I'm sure they could still live full lives even though they might not be able to visit Venice without being arrested.

But Google should be careful and choose its battles. It might want to keep its 'Korean solution' in reserve. It needs to decide whether the recent Italian court ruling is a good enough reason to justify such flagrant disregard of a country's laws.

There might be more important issues in the future on which to make a stand, rather than its "rights" to host and distribute a video of a disabled boy being beaten and insulted.

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