We were astounded to read of the Italian Google convictions last week, but the timing was uncanny – the announcement came on the very day of our UGC and the Law event and eBook launch.
We issued an official statement to the press below:
“Many publishers feel the risk of not moderating and relying on alerts from users is worth taking with ‘safe harbour’ providing a cushion against prosecution. This case has potentially created a landmark ruling for those reactively moderating content on their sites and will send a warning shot across the bows of those operating within Social Media.”
“For sites such as YouTube, moderating every single video is near impossible but such large scale sites are going to have to implement additional protection measures to avoid similar cases. Law lords are going to have to think carefully about how such a ruling is implemented in the future to avoid an onslaught of appeals and lobbying from many corporations.”
In reality we agree with Econsultancy that the Italian Google convictions are a wake up call for UGC services. The convictions seem likely to be overturned and are predominantly symbolic. But is this kind of industry shake-up necessary? Can the UK expect more of the same?
We fully expect the UK to follow suit with some high-profile legal action against one or two service providers here. If there’s anything our work on the eBook highlighted it’s that even basic and pre-existing legislation is being breached on a regular basis in the land grab for social media. [*cough* Data Protection Act *cough*]
Does it really matter? Aren’t most of these just minor infringements? Yes and no. We love the social web and don’t want to be the fun police, but we’re particularly concerned at the lack of safeguards being put in place for young people online. For adults, with no privacy laws in the UK, it’s particularly important that we feel assured our data is being protected and sites are contactable and responsive to requests to investigate or remove content.
So now the world waits – What Will Google Do?