Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Potential dangers to web developers who host user created content

See the google blog post here and a CNET article here.

“A public prosecutor in Milan decided to indict four Google employees... The charges brought against them were criminal defamation and a failure to comply with the Italian privacy code. To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video. They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed. ...A judge in Milan today convicted 3 of the 4 defendants... for failure to comply with the Italian privacy code.”

Google is appealing, but this is still disturbing news.

I realize that many/most people don't actually read the "terms of use", "privacy policy" or "community guidelines" on many/most of the sites that they post to. But having those disclaimers there for users to 'agree' to is supposed to protect the developer from liability.

The alternative is to have individuals screen and approve every single submission that comes through. When you consider that YouTube likely gets hundreds/thousands/more video submissions every hour, the human manageability of this is just crazy. YouTube is very community driven and the YouTube/Google developers have always been very quick to respond (at least as far as I've seen/heard) to infringements of copyright/privacy/etc policy.

Even in this particular case, the claim is that Google employees 'within hours of being notified' removed the video in question and even continued further by helping the Italian police identify the person who uploaded the video in the first place.

Now, I admit that I don't know all the particular details of the case. I suspect that they're being prosecuted on some corner case such as not including Italian-law-specific language in the policy or some such thing. But still, for Google/YouTube to have reacted as swiftly and with such cooperation and then to have been prosecuted and convicted is just amazing.

1 comment:

Phoenix said...

Yikes. This is scary indeed. I know not everything is free content on the web (nor should it be) but it's a bit disturbing, as you said, to see it go down so fast. Wow.