Having listened to the latest instalment of the “right to be forgotten” debate I am beginning to think that I have been transported to Orwell’s 1984 and a world controlled by The Ministry of Truth. You will all be aware, I am sure, of The European Court of Justice’s decision that links to data that is irrelevant and out of date should be removed from searches on request.
But who decides what is irrelevant – surely that’s a very subjective area? And if links that are supposedly out of date are removed does that mean we are beginning to erase or even re-invent history?
Apparently Google has got into hot water with data watchdogs for informing owners of sites when their links are taken down – you will remember the case of one of Robert Peston’s blogs disappearing from the BBC website. To me this is censorship – pure and simple – and it’s fundamentally wrong.
Google has also been criticised by the data watchdog for only removing links from European variants – but not from Google.com. Now I am no lawyer – and I am sure that there are lots of technical legal arguments that could be put forward but as many .com addresses are US domains and freedom of speech is a fundamental part of the American Constitution then surely this is an area fraught with problems?
Apparently the UK Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham has said “All this talk about rewriting history and airbrushing embarrassing bits from your past – this is nonsense, that’s not going to happen”. Really? Tell that to Robert Peston!
This really is the thin end the wedge – it’ll be the Thought Police next!