The internet giant Google has said it will appeal against the sentences handed down to three of its executives, who were convicted by a court in Milan after a bullying video was uploaded onto the website.
The video showed an Italian boy with autism being abused at school in Turin. The judge gave the executives six-month suspended prison sentences because they had not reacted quickly enough to remove it.
Google spokesman Bill Echikson said: “If this is let to stand, we believe that it would threaten the very freedom that the internet has brought about, that sites like Blogger and YouTube, if they are held responsible for vetting every video, then the freedom that we know, the Web we know, will cease to exist.”
A Google statement said the three, who were tried in their absence, had had nothing to do with producing or uploading the clip.
It was the first such criminal trial of its kind, and its implications for internet freedom are being absorbed around the world.