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Parliamentary questions
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18 March 2010
by Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE) , Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE) , Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) , Nadja Hirsch (ALDE) , Renate Weber (ALDE) , Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE) , Sonia Alfano (ALDE) and Baroness Sarah Ludford (ALDE)
to the Council

 Subject: Google indictment in Italy
 Answer in writing 

On 24 February 2010, the Milan Criminal Court sentenced three Google executives to six months' imprisonment, suspended, for violation of the data protection law — while dismissing defamation charges — in the first criminal trial in the world convicting Google for the publication of content on the web, i.e. a video showing a person with autism being bullied, on its video sharing platform.

Commentators have raised the fear that such interpretation of data protection rules could make Internet Service Providers (ISPs) responsible for users' actions, making it mandatory to carry out a prior check on the lawfulness of the actions carried out by the users themselves, contrary to the principles of network neutrality and online privacy. Such pre-emptive controls on content published would in practice make ISPs equivalent to media, such as television and newspapers, and could lead to a restriction of freedom of expression and information on the Internet.

Does the Council consider that the EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC(1)) and the Italian law on privacy impose an obligation on ISPs and, as a result, make the responsible for making preliminary checks on content created, exchanged or posted by users on the Internet? Does the Council consider that, by analogy with the press and other and other media, ISPs can be held liable for content posted by its users? How will the Council make sure that the principles of network neutrality and privacy are respected?

(1)OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.

 OJ C 138 E, 07/05/2011
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