I’m generally in favor of holding companies liable for their actions — after all, if we treat corporations as “persons” under the law, then they should have responsibilities as well as protections and benefits. But I’m not sure about holding executives criminally liable — perhaps in the case of knowing pollution or conspiracy to cover up product dangers — but not, I think, for actions they are not directly responsible for, as in this case from Italy:
Along with three other Google executives, Mr. Fleischer now faces criminal charges of defamation and privacy violations in a case that could have far-reaching implications for Google — and, the company argues, a potentially chilling effect on other Internet companies operating in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.
Alternatively, perhaps holding senior executives personally liable (and potentially facing jail time, although it would be suspended under Italian law in this case) would force companies to better comply with the law? (I still think it goes too far.)