With all the talk about the new Massachusetts privacy regulations about to set a new aggressive standard in the United States, it looks like the real privacy hawks are in Italy. An Italian court convicted three Google executives today in a case that is certain to create confusion throughout the Tubes. Italy, meet YouTube, and welcome to the 21st century. As reported by Wired Magazine (among many other today), the case against the three Google execs - none of whom is apparently in Italy - centered around what sounds like a disturbing video of Italian schoolkids bullying and beating up a mentally disabled classmate. The problem was not that Google did not take down the video - it did! - it was simply that they didn't take it down fast enough.
With today's "share everything" mentality on the Internet, this case sets a dangerous precedent when you consider the "sue everyone" mentality that has also become pervasive in our society. If adopted here, it seems as though this case could set off a new wave of litigiousness that would not weaken the freedom we have come to know on the Internet, but also our legal system. This is exactly the type of problem that Philip K. Howard talked about recently at the TED conference.
But that could never happen here in America, right?