This is backwards. In 2006, several students from Turin, Italy filmed themselves bullying a classmate with Down’s Syndrome. The bullying students, clearly impressed with themselves, uploaded the video to Google Video for the world to see. Google explains: “The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police. We also worked with the local police to help identify the person responsible for uploading it and she was subsequently sentenced to 10 months community service by a court in Turin, as were several other classmates who were also involved.” But, of course, this isn’t where this story ends. “A public prosecutor in Milan decided to indict four Google employees… who left the company in 2008. The charges brought against them were criminal defamation and a failure to comply with the Italian privacy code.” Google goes onto clarify that the employees charged were not responsible for the screening of these movies — no Google employee is responsible for that — and furthermore the employees had no knowledge of this video until after it was removed by Google. “Nevertheless, a judge in Milan today convicted 3 of the 4 defendants…for failure to comply with the Italian privacy code… In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload.” Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development, and former chief financial officer, George Reyes, were sentenced to six-month terms, which were suspended. Google plans to appeal the judge’s decision. More →
Contrary to popular belief, the mighty force that is the Google empire is not exactly recession proof. The company announced yesterday that it was laying off roughly 100 employees and making some pretty significant “alterations” to its product offerings. None of the major Google services (Gmail, Google Docs, etc) were affected, but a number of minor Google products have been relegated to a virtual death row sentence. Jaiku is being shifted to the Google App Engine, which essentially means that the company will cease any and all official support, though Jaiku accounts will continue to function for the foreseeable future. Google Notebooks, Google Catalogs, Dodgeball, Google Video, and Google Mashup Editor, however, will all meet a similar fate, though Google Notebooks will simply be closed to any new user signups and Google video will still allows users to view existing content, though new content uploads will be disabled very shortly. All told, while it’s not a huge blow to the company’s bread-and-butter, it’s yet another example of just how bad the economic situation has become, and leads us to question whether a seemingly impenetrable company like Google will be able to keep up with future innovation and new service offerings.