Italian judge dismisses initial Google defense argument

Bullying video case is considered along with another privacy complaint

The judge in the Google bullying video case Tuesday rejected a defense argument that lawyers acting for the principal plaintiff did not have a valid mandate. Milan judge Oscar Magi took almost two hours to consider the argument put forward by Google lawyers Giuseppe Vaciago and Giuliano Pisapia before ruling that a lawyer representing the Vivi Down association had been legitimately appointed.

Vivi Down first drew attention to the existence of a three-minute mobile-phone video showing four youths harassing a classmate with Down syndrome that was posted on Google Video in 2006. Four Google executives -- chief legal officer David Drummond, former chief financial officer George Reyes, global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer and former head of Google Video Europe Arvind Desikan -- are charged with defamation and violating Italy's privacy law.

Vivi Down continues to act as a plaintiff in the case, though the teenage bullying victim, who lives in Turin, withdrew last month. The Google lawyers had argued that Vivi Down's complaint was not valid because it had been presented by the association's president, without the explicit consent of its board of directors. The judge threw out the argument, saying the president's powers had been correctly exercised.

"The judge ruled on the validity of the mandate at the basis of Vivi Down's complaint. At the next hearing, on March 25, he will tackle the issue of whether or not the court has jurisdiction," Raffaele Zallone, a lawyer representing another plaintiff in the case, said in a telephone interview.

Zallone represents a woman who complains that Google searches for her name turn up reports of her involvement in a corruption case but fail to register the fact that she was ultimately acquitted. Judge Magi is considering both the corruption-report complaint and bullying video case in the same trial. In the complaint about the corruption report, Google is accused of providing false information to Italy's Communications Authority because one of the Google defendants allegedly appointed a lawyer to represent him before the Authority without having the power to do so, Zallone said.

In its ruling on the dispute, the Authority accepted that Google was not responsible for the content appearing on its search engine but ruled that the creation of cache copies was equivalent to data handling and had to be done in accordance with Italian law. "The Authority established an important principle," Zallone said. "If you create an autonomous copy you become responsible for the content of that page from the point of view of data handling under the privacy law."

Zallone acknowledged there was no easy solution for his client, and for other people in her situation, since newspapers inevitably gave greater space to reports of accusations than they did to acquittals. A possible solution would be to allow newspapers to retain full coverage of criminal cases in their online archives provided they make the early, accusatory reports inaccessible to external search engines, he said.

The Communications Authority has recently ruled on two cases similar to his client's and is now ordering newspapers to remove the defamatory reports from their online archives, Zallone said. "It's not easy to find the right balance on this issue," Zallone admitted. On Tuesday a Google search revealed that the online archives of the Corriere della Sera and Repubblica newspapers both carried two reports of Zallone's client's past judicial woes.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Philip Willan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?