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BREAKING NEWS: Google Executives Convicted on Privacy Charges in Italy

In the first case of its kind, an Italian judge today convicted three Google executives on privacy violations in Milan court. Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, and another executive were found guilty of failing to comply with Italian privacy code in allowing a disparaging video to be posted online. A fourth defendant was acquitted. All three will appeal the decision.

Judge Oscar Magi ordered a six-month suspended jail sentence and fines for Fleischer, Drummond and former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes. The three were absolved of defamation charges. .The case stems from the posting of a video to Google Video Italia showing teenage boys taunting a classmate with Down syndrome. Prosecutors charged that the executives did not do enough to keep the offensive video off its site. In a statement, Peter Fleischer said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent. “If company employees like me can be held criminally liable for any video on a hosting platform…then our liability is unlimited.” He said today’s decision raises questions for the operators of many Internet platforms.

Stay tuned.

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Cynthia J. Larose

Member / Chair, Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice

Cynthia J. Larose is Chair of the firm's Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice, a Certified Information Privacy Professional-US (CIPP-US), and a Certified Information Privacy Professional-Europe (CIPP-E). She works with clients in various industries to develop comprehensive information security programs on the front end, and provides timely counsel when it becomes necessary to respond to a data breach.