Italy was already the Internet freedom bad boy among western European democracies with its plans to extend broadcast TV licensing requirements to video sites. But the conviction today by a Milan judge of three Google executives is more than a one-off case of antisocial cyber behavior. It could end the protection that Web platforms now enjoy for user posted content. Potentially, that would mean that every video posted on the company’s YouTube site would have to be pre-screened for compliance with the law. That’s impossible for a site that is uploading almost a day’s worth of video every minute worldwide.
Internet freedom defenders had been expecting the worst for months, and Judge Oscar Magi didn’t disappoint. He gave six-month suspended prison sentences to David Drummond, Google's senior vice president and chief legal officer, Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, and George Reyes, a former chief financial officer.