An Italian appeals court has acquitted three Google executives of 2010 charges of having violated the privacy of an Italian boy with autism.
The three were arrested after a video of the boy being bullied was posted on the site in 2006.
The court’s decision overturned a previous ruling in 2010 which had sentenced the executives to jail. At the moment the court is not saying why the case had been thrown out.
As might be expected, Google is happy with the news. Google policy manager Giorgia Abeltino told the press here that he was happy the earlier decision was not confirmed, and that the court of appeals recognised the innocence of his colleagues.
Abeltino said that Google’s thoughts are with the boy and his family for the difficult moments they have endured.
In 2006 four students at a Turin school uploaded a mobile phone clip to Google Video in 2006 showing them bullying the boy.
But for some reason the prosecutors blamed Google for the event, pointing out that the video remained online for two months even though some Web users had already posted comments asking for it to be taken down.
The complaint was brought by an Italian advocacy group for people with Down’s Syndrome, Vivi Down, and the boy’s father.
They were initially successful. In February 2010, a court gave each of the three Google executives, none of whom were based in Italy, a six-month suspended jail sentence. Google pointed out that the executives had nothing to do with the upload and could not have taken it down even if they wanted.
Google claimed to have removed the video immediately after being notified and cooperated with Italian coppers to help identify the bullies.
But the case has exposed some jolly odd aspects. Vivi Down was only involved because it was named by the boys in the video. The boy had autism, not Down’s and they wanted to make sure that message was heard.
The enthusiasm with which prosecutors took to Google was considered suspect in the press here. Italy’s PM Silvio Berlusconi was also engaged in a war with YouTube of the publishing of his piss poor television company’s god-awful television programmes on the site. That particular lawsuit is still ongoing.