July 30, 2014   |   Justin King
Justin King | The Anti-Media
The so-called “right to be forgotten” is nothing more than a method of deleting unfavorable incidents from one’s past. Google has approved roughly 100,000 requests and deleted the offending entries from search results. That is 100,000 pieces of history that will no longer show up in search results.
In today’s digital world, the censors don’t have to burn books. They just remove the people’s method of finding them. Google’s actions amount to a digital book burning. Thumbnail credit: huffingtonpost.co.uk
If someone is concerned enough about a search result from the past, they are typically a prominent figure. The right to be forgotten will be used by politicians to remove damaging articles about past indiscretions, thus making themselves more electable. Since corporations are now treated as people, it won’t be long until a researcher will be unable to find information about a corporation’s past deeds. Nobody aside from those living with the effects of the Bhopal tragedy will be able to find out about Dow’s misdeeds.
Orwell himself could not have envisioned a more fiendish way of controlling a population’s opinion. In 1984, the main character’s full time job was editing the past. He worked in a room full of people deleting and editing historical data that cast the Party in a bad light. The task is now handled by a room of Google employees.
“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
Without historical information about a person or company, any current news story becomes irrelevant because it lacks context. An article about a legislator opposing new sex crimes legislation lacks importance if it is unknown that the legislator settled a lawsuit accusing him of a sex crime.
Everybody has things in their past they want to forget. Somewhere out there in the mystic ether of the internet is a photo of me skinny dipping with a high school sweetheart, blogs condemning me with all sorts of wild accusations, my arrest record, and a whole collection of other results. Do I wish some of these things weren’t there? Sure. It would be great if the net was only filled with warm and fuzzy articles telling the world how awesome I am. However, even the most untrue and wild accusation out there is protected speech and is important to the security of free speech and of a free people. Nobody, certainly not the person being condemned, should be capable of determining what is relevant or should be remembered.
While every attack on a free press should be fought, this is possibly the most dangerous idea to come to the forefront in a very long time. This is the changing of history. This is the editing of the past. This is the systematic destruction of the truth. When governments and corporations have the ability to censor what we see, read, hear, study, and learn; there is no hope for the future. You will love Big Brother.