In a surprising turn of events today, three Google executives were found guilty by a Milan court for privacy code violations. The charges come after a YouTube video was allowed to be posted of an autistic boy being bullied in back in 2006. The court believes that Google is held criminally responsible for what is uploaded to YouTube.

“In late 2006, students at a school in Turin, Italy filmed and then uploaded a video to Google Video that showed them bullying an autistic schoolmate. The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police. We also worked with the local police to help identify the person responsible for uploading it and she was subsequently sentenced to 10 months community service by a court in Turin, as were several other classmates who were also involved.”

Unfortunately that didn’t stop the court in Italy from convicting three Google executives, despite none of the four indicted having any part in the video. They are seeking an appeal for the six-month jail sentence, but it brings up a good question about internet freedom. What transpired here could have an impact on everyone who hosts content on the internet.

There is no question that if illegal content is posted, it should be removed immediately. With this case they are essentially saying that content must go through enormous filtering before it even gets posted online. If the content gets posted, even if it is taken down, the host is still responsible for allowing it. This could be disastrous and could completely transform the way the internet functions. There is a way for free speech and privacy to coexist on the internet, but this is not it.