Google Execs Convicted in Italy, Facing Other Problems in EU

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Google seems to be feeling the pains of becoming the world’s largest Internet business as it faces Microsoft-like opposition in Europe.  Three Google executives were convicted by a judge in Italy of failing to comply with Italian privacy code while the European Union begins investigating the search giant for monopolistic activity.

The Italian conviction is, to Google’s credit, a serious miscarriage of justice as an overzealous legal system attempts to convict all and sundry in an effort to win good PR.  Google calls this a Serious threat to the web in Italy on their blog.

The charges stem from a sad incident in 2006 in which a group of Italian students filmed themselves bullying an autistic schoolmate and then posted their deeds on Google Video.  When the video was seen by Italian authorities, they notified Google, who immediately removed the video.  The kids responsible were eventually tried and convicted and Google thought that would be it.

Then, in 2008, charges were brought against four Google employees for criminal defamation and failure to comply with the Italian privacy code.  This because the Google Video service was used to post the video online, not because the four Google employees had anything to do with the bullying video in any way other than to be in charge of keeping the service active – none of them had any responsibility towards the content on the site.

So the court in Milan convicts three of the four charged and justice is served, Italian-style, with the three convictions carrying sentences of six months in jail.  And you wonder why mobsters are always Italian in the movies…

Meanwhile, an investigation has opened against Google for unfair competition in the European Union.  The suite was brought by several EU-based companies who claim that Google is acting in a monopolistic manner (I think we call it “doing the Microsoft” here in the States).  The Telegraph reports that an anti-trust investigation has opened at the European Commission.

As usual, the charges against Google stem from supposed “search penalties” on businesses.  These allegations usually stem from businesses who don’t understand SEO and wonder why they can’t get towards the top.  There could be some questionable deeds happening, but it’s not likely.  Why would Google threaten their number one resource (consumer trust) with something this lame?

At least, that’s the way it appears for now, with the limited information available.  Surely there’ll be more to come.


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