MILAN — Lawyers for Google rested their case in defense of four executives charged in Italy with failing to comply with privacy laws, telling a judge that the company has a mechanism in place to rapidly remove objectionable video from its site.The attorneys, Giuliano Pisapia and Giuseppe Vaciago, said that Google removed a video showing high school students bullying an autistic classmate just hours after it learned it had been posted.
Italian prosecutors had argued at a hearing last month that Google, based in Mountain View, California, was negligent because the video remained on Google’s Italian-language video service for two months in 2006. Google did not dispute that in court. Mr. Pisapia and Mr. Vaciago argued that the company should not be held liable for not having known earlier that the video was on its site.
The attorneys said user complaints about a video are routed to a Google employee in Ireland who speaks Italian; the employee views the video and has the power to remove it if necessary. The hearing came during a controversy over the role played by Web sites in the attack that left Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with a broken nose and teeth this month. On Wednesday, the Italian interior minister, Roberto Maroni, said the country had dropped plans to seek out and close Web sites that were said to incite violence.
Last month, the Milan prosecutors asked for a one-year sentence for three current or former Google executives — David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer; Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel; and George Reyes, a former chief financial officer. Prosecutors are seeking a six-month sentence for Arvind Desikan, now head of consumer marketing for Google in Britain.
None of the four executives named in the suit had any direct involvement with the video. If found guilty, none would not serve time in jail because sentences of under three years are commuted in Italy for those without a criminal record. The prosecutors will respond to Google’s defense on Jan. 27. If only limited new material is presented, a ruling could come that day or soon after.