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Italy court convicts three Google executives of privacy violations

[JURIST] An Italian court on Wednesday found three Google [corporate website] executives guilty of privacy violations for allowing a video depicting bullying to be posted on its website. The court in Milan found that the three men, David Carl Drummond, George De Los Reyes, and Peter Fleitcher, violated the privacy rights [ANSA report] of a young man with Down's Syndrome when they allowed a video showing his classmates bullying him to remain on the Google Italy website from September to November 2006. All three men were given a suspended sentence, though prosecutors had asked for a one-year imprisonment. A fourth defendant, Arvind Desikan, was found not guilty of privacy invasion, and a defamation claim against all four defendants was dismissed. Google's Deputy General Counsel reacted to the news quickly, with a strongly-worded statement [Google Blog post] calling the decision an attack on "the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built," and promising to appeal the ruling.

Wednesday's ruling is the latest in a string of privacy-related legal troubles for Google. Last week, an internet privacy group filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Google's new Buzz service violates privacy laws and Google's own terms of service. Canada's Privacy Commissioner also raised concerns [press release] about the privacy protections present in the new social networking service. In January, Google threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] its services from China after hackers based in that country accessed e-mail addresses and other information from the accounts of human rights activists in December 2009.

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