Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ciao, Italia!

I won't be attending my trial in Milan in person. I'll be represented by outside counsel. I believe that each of my 3 co-defendants has reached the same conclusion. As for me, I'm under clear instructions from my outside counsel not to set foot in Italy, at all. That's a tragedy, since I love Italy. It means I won't be speaking at this privacy conference in Bologna in May, which still seems to be advertising me as a speaker:


It also means I won't go hiking with friends in the Dolomites this summer.

Why? Well, Italy has a legal concept which is unknown in Anglo-Saxon countries: namely, that an employee of a company can be held personally criminally liable for the actions or non-actions of the corporation he works for. Moreover, Italy has also criminalized much of its data protection laws, meaning that routine data protection questions can give rise to criminal prosecutions. As everyone in the field of privacy knows, data protection laws are full of sweeping statements that need to be interpreted with judgment and common sense. But imagine the consequences if every data protection decision made by a company can be second-guessed by a public prosecutor with little knowledge of privacy law. Does that mean that a data protection lawyer working for a company is running the risk of personal criminal arrest and indictment and prosecution for routine business practices? Well, I guess you can see why I've been advised not to set foot in Italy. I'm sure such prosecutions will remain rare, and perhaps my current prosecution will the be last of its type. But maybe not. And working for one of the world's most visible Internet companies puts me at more risk than most of my colleagues in the field of data protection, as the current prosecution has shown.

Italy is my favorite country in the world to visit. What a shame.

Ciao, Italia!


Peter Colsch said...

I am sorry that Italian law appears to still be in the 19th century and wanted to thank you for helping make the internet a place for free communication and sharing. The world is much a better place for it.

While it is tragic that individuals and small groups of people can still be cruel to the disabled or handicapped, it is the very communication platform you have built and your cooperation with law enforcement worldwide that made it possible to bring such cruelty to light and its perpetrators to justice.

Sometimes it seems that no good deed goes unpunished, but I suspect that there are billions of people around the world and at least one handicapped child in Italy that are grateful for the service you provide. As the father of a severely handicapped child in a public school system, I say thank you.

Thank you for removing the content when notified, and thank you for helping actually catch the true criminals. Your efforts and kindness have not gone unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

Wow - what a racist moron. Get your ass to Italy and face the consequences of your actions. Perhaps, if more countries followed Italy's lead, people like yourself would be more inclined to make the companies you work for respect the laws of various countries, rather than ignoring them. Ignorance is no defence, i believe is the saying?