Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

The Milan Four

by Paul Jacob

Four executives of Google — call them the Milan Four — are on trial in Italy for the crime of being employed by Google when an objectionable video was posted to a Google video site. The charges are defamation and privacy violation. The accused face jail time.

The video showed teasing of a boy with Down syndrome. As soon as Google was told about the posting, the company removed it. According to reports, the four were not even “directly involved in handing video from Italy.”

Obviously, this is not a just prosecution. If anything, one would go after the persons who posted the video. If prosecuting the four executives is warranted, why not haul every single Google executive into court? Or every single Google employee, for that matter? They're all equally “guilty.”

In general, it's bad to prosecute innocent people at random in the service of some political agenda.

This is happening all too often, not just in Italy, but in our own country. Prosecutors are increasingly becoming politicians, and are out for greater name identification. They trade their good judgment for headline-grabbing stunt prosecutions. Oftentimes, the cases fizzle. But too often, the damage done to innocent people cannot be dismissed when the false charges are.

I hope the Italian job fizzles too. Meanwhile, Google should defend itself using the viral techniques of the Internet, never letting up on this outrageous prosecution.

Google that.

Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Citizens in Charge Foundation. Their website can be visited at www.citizensincharge.org.


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Comments

This reminds me of a discussion on our local AM 580, KMJ. The discussion occurred in response to a recent rash of Youtube videos in which groups of girls were depicted beating up, torturing, outright savaging another girl. The question was, should such videos be banned?

Why ban the video, when the behavior itself is criminal. Its as if a bank robber taped his robbery and posted it to Youtube, including an introduction in which his face is visible. Don't ban the videos: verify their contents, and then use them as evidence!

As for the teasing of a boy with down syndrome, the proper response isn't to sue Google executives; it's public ostracism of the kids involved. Think of the message this suit sends: torment some poor kid, upload it to a video sharing site, and you won't get in trouble: the site owners will!

The second message is: if you run a media corporation, do now allow the free flow of information; that can get you sued. Make sure to run everything by a censor, and when in doubt, do not allow the post to go through. In fact, internal censorship was precisely the sort of thing being recommended by the callers (if not the host himself) to the show I mentioned at the start of this comment.

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