Does Italy’s Google Conviction Portend More Censorship?

Leslie Harris, the president of the influential Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology, argued the ruling would be used by authoritarian regimes to justify their own web censorship.

“Today’s stunning verdict sets an extremely dangerous precedent that threatens free expression and chills innovation on the global internet,” Harris said in an e-mail statement. “If the conviction is allowed to stand, it will chill the provision of Web 2.0 services that provide user-generated content platforms in Italy, and Italian internet users will find themselves without a powerful forum for free expression.

“Most troubling, what happened in Italy is unlikely to stay in Italy. The Italian court’s actions today will surely embolden authoritarian regimes and be used to justify their own efforts to suppress internet freedom.”