The Wrong Way Forward: Google Execs Face Criminal Consequences For Cyberlibel

Saul Hansell over at the New York Times’ bits blog writes, Google Execs Face Jail Time For Italian Video.  Google execs are standing trial today for a cellphone video that was posted to Italian Youtube by a third party of some Turin youths teasing a boy with Down Syndrome.  Even though YouTube took the video down because some found it distasteful the Italian authorities insist on holding four Google executives criminally responsible.

This story is noteworthy for two reasons:

  1. It Demonstrates The Role of The Communications Decency Act – In the U.S., Google would be shielded from liability for content created by a third party under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but it appears that Italian law has no such equivalent.
  2. It Highlights The Growing Problem Of Internet Defamation – As I wrote in an earlier post, authorities all around the world are struggling to deal with the explosion of defamation on the Internet.  They simply do not know what to do.  Like many others before them, unfortunately, the Italian authorities are simply using the wrong tools to deal with the problem.  They are using the equivalent of a sledgehammer to kill an ant.

What do you think?  Should defamation be treated as a crime?





  1. says

    Yes, of course this is a crime! The problem with cyber libel is that you cannot trace finger prints on an invisible hand, so a lot of people are off the hook since their identity is so easily hidden behind codes, fake names and fake everything. The internet makes it too easy for anyone to become a publisher.

  2. says

    Defamation Law Chaos

    Say what you will about "Web 2.0" and the so-called "evolution" of the Internet. The fact is, the Internet is still the Wild Wild West, especially with respect to policing/regulating the web. Witness the herculean struggle in the Un…

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