Google said on Wednesday that a ruling against its top Italian executives attacks the principles of freedom of the Internet and poses a serious threat to the web.

Earlier in the day, an Italian court has convicted three Google executives in a trial over a video showing a teenager with Down's Syndrome being bullied.

In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload, said Matt Sucherman, Google's Deputy General Counsel.

Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming.

The Google employees were accused of breaking Italian law by allowing the video to be posted online. Judge Oscar Magi absolved the three of defamation but convicted them of privacy violations.

A company's rights cannot prevail over a person's dignity. This sentence sends a clear signal, public prosecutor Alfredo Robledo told reporters outside the Milan courthouse.

The ruling said it had broken Italian privacy law by not seeking consent of all parties involved.

The three received suspended six-month sentences, while a fourth defendant was acquitted.

During the trial, Google said that pre-screening content before posting was impossible, and that the company immediately complied with authorities after it was brought to its attention.

But the prosecutors accused Google of negligence, saying the video remained online for two months even though some web users had already posted comments asking for it to be taken down.

The video at the center of the case was posted on Google Video in 2006 shortly before the firm acquired YouTube.