PRECEDENT OF ITALIAN COURT CONVICTION OF GOOGLE EXECUTIVES OF GRAVE CONCERN TO ISPs

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ISPAI is very alarmed by the ruling of an Italian judge that three Google executives were criminally responsible for an online video of an autistic teenager being bullied posted by a user of their service. Paul Durrant, General Manager of ISPAI said, “this verdict potentially has serious consequences for Internet Service Providers. It seems to challenge the fundamental principles, protected in the European Union by the eCommerce Directive, that access and hosting providers and online services such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are not responsible for the content that users upload”.

The verdict, the first of its kind, sets a very dangerous precedent which implies that ISPs (in Italy at least) must somehow police content placed on their services. It is also worrying that the three Google employees who had nothing to do with the filming or uploading of the video now have a criminal record. This will be of concern to ISP personnel everywhere.

Google have decided to appeal the verdict and we anxiously await the result of those proceedings. However, if the ruling stands interested parties may seek similar rulings in other EU jurisdictions, including Ireland, against ISPs who as commercial entities would face massive liabilities and the associated costs this would entail.