Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Korean Solution To Google's Italian Problem

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 25, 2010

Following an Italian court ruling earlier this week, Google is facing the prospect of having to check Italian sourced videos before they are posted, to make sure they don't violate Italian privacy laws.

That's a daunting task.

One potential way around this problem is to do what it did in South Korea last year. A new law forced Google to collect the real names of Koreans uploading videos or commenting online.

On the day the law came into effect, Google simply switched off the comments and blocked the ability for people to upload videos to its Korean YouTube site. Koreans were still allowed to upload video to YouTube sites in neighboring countries.

It was neat sidestep of its legal obligations.

Run for the border...

Courts only have jurisdiction within their country. But web sites and data, can be located anywhere. In the future, Iceland, might become a favored destination for Internet data because it is debating passing strong laws that protect freedom of speech.

Iceland plans future as global haven for freedom of speech | World news | guardian.co.uk

Google could use the international nature of the Internet to thumb its nose at any government seeking to control what it hosts.

Such a strategy however, is a risky one. If it chooses the wrong issue, it would be seen as an international pariah, which would harm its brand. After all, a competitor is always just one click away.

Google needs to decide whether its claim to "Internet freedom," as its right to host and distribute a video of a disabled boy being beaten and insulted, is one that would justify disregarding a country's laws.

There might be more important battles to be waged in the future and it would do well to keep its powder dry.

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Please see:

Analysis: Italian Decision Could Help Traditional Media Orgs

Google Is A Media Company - New York Times Sees The Connection In Italian Court Case


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