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GOOGLE CONVICTION “COULD BREAK THE INTERNET”

25-02-2010

Britain’s first blogging MP Tom Watson has condemned an Italian court ruling which saw three Google executives convicted for hosting a video showing a Downs Syndrome teenager being bullied. Watson warned it could “break the internet”.

Two company executives – David Drummond and Peter Fleischer – and ex-employee George Reyes were each given a six month suspended sentence for allowing the boys privacy to be invaded after the clip was left on Google Video for two months.

West Bromwich East MP Watson was outraged by the court’s decision and said it must be challenged.

“The court has rewritten the principle that people who publish content are responsible for that content – and it undermines all the progress we’ve seen towards the free exchange of information on the internet.

“It sends the wrong signal to closed societies like Iran and China, if we are seen to be restricting access to the net in the West.”

One of the ironies of the case is that Google helped bring the bullies to justice and assisted in the conviction of the person who uploaded the video.

Watson fears that if the Italian verdict becomes more widely enshrined in European law, it could mean the end of online life as we know it.

“It means that any aggregating service or new engine has to review all of its content before publishing – that would effectively break the internet.

“There are trillions of pages, so economically it would be impossible to check them all.

“This is effectively an attack on freedom of expression.”

Google is expected to appeal.

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