Three Google executives were convicted of privacy violations Wednesday in Milan, Italy. The Google executives involved in the lawsuit are: Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, and the now retired Chief Financial Officer George Reyes. The Italian court maintained that the Google execs did not respond properly to an online video that showed an autistic boy being tormented by bullies. Prosecutors centered their case around the balance of freedom, not censorship, based upon the "expression with the rights of an individual."
This is the first criminal trial regarding Internet freedom. Judge Oscar Magi issued the sentence of a three to six months and "absolved" the execs of defamation charges. A fourth defendant, Senior Product Marketing Manager Arvind Desikan was acquitted.
Google responded to the sentence promising an appeal, calling the judge's decision "astonishing."
"We will appeal this astonishing decision," Google spokesman Bill Echikson maintained: "We are deeply troubled by this decision. It attacks the principles of freedom on which the Internet was built."
"The judge has decided I'm primarily responsible for the actions of some teenagers who uploaded a reprehensible video to Google video," reported Peter Fleischer in a statement issued after his conviction.
Google finds the trial as a "threat to freedom on the Internet because it could force providers to attempt an impossible task - prescreening the thousands of hours of footage uploaded every day onto sites like YouTube."
The controversial trial revolves around 2006 video footage of an incident in Turin. A group of bullies beat and insulted an autistic student in a Turin School, all while one of the teenagers pretended to call Vivi Down, an advocacy group for people with Down's Syndrome. Vivi Down initiated the suit. Because of the video, authorities were able to identify and punish the 4 tormentors. They were sentenced by a juvenile court and had to do community service.