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All The Worst People Would Like the Internet To Forget Them
Friday, May 16, 2014 - 03:17 PM
"The Right to Be Forgotten" is an idea that you should be able to redact information about yourself from internet search results.
It seems like a crazy thing to propose - (Isn't it just a more poetic name for censorship? Who would decide who gets to be forgotten, and why?) but a few governments have instituted some version of legally mandated forgetfulness, most recently the European Union.
Now, the BBC is reporting that the first applicants who'd like material removed from the internet have shown up, and they're archetypal examples of people who you'd want to know (factually correct) bad information about. For instance, a guy who got caught possessing child abuse images. Or an ex-politician making a comeback who wants an article about his bad behavior in office nixed. Or a fellow who tried to kill his family.
The promise of Right to be Forgotten laws is that they'll legislatively fix something about the internet that's essentially unfixable - it's a place where gossip and outrage proliferate, whether or not their targets deserve it. But the solution they offer -- for governments to decide which speech is accurate or worthwhile, is a silly one.