Google execs face defamation charges

Apparently an Italian prosecutor has ordered 4 Google Executives to appear in a court in Milan, Italy to face defamation charges. The charges stem from a cell phone video, posted to Google, of 4 Italian high-school males taunting another young Italian male with down syndrome. The charges were brought by an Italian down syndrome advocacy group called Vividown and the kid’s father.

Defamation is defined as the act of injuring another’s reputation by any slanderous communication, written or oral.

The legal question here is: Can a party (like Google) be punished for the way its site is used by third parties?

In the United States the answer is probably not. Under 47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c)(1) (CDA Sec. 230): “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This provision is generally interpreted by U.S. Courts to provide protection against defamation claims made against ISPs.

But this is Italy, and I really don’t have a clue how they generally rule on issues like this one!

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