Google is wrong. The right to be forgotten is a human right and should be universal.

Google has an article complaining that some places are passing laws that require that a citizen who wants to have Google forget his or her past be forgotten universally. They claim a right to free expression and that the originating country's laws should not prevent them from saying what they want. And that the other country's should be able to choose not to grant such a right to their citizens.

Hilarious corporate bullshit to my way of thinking. Their concern about free expression doesn't extend to supporting a claim that some country should be allowed to pass a law invalidating all copyright. In that case, they would support the 'right' of the copyright owner to withhold it's 'content' from said country.

But, if it's a person whose country gives him or her something tantamount to copyright control over their own history and its use in a corporate product (search results are a corporate product that you are buying from Google with your attention), well, not so much. Corps get to control access. People do not.

This isn't the only perversity. Throughout history, humans have been able to go to the other side of the world and start over. Mistakes they made in their youth were invisible as they started their new lives. Crimes committed, controversies engaged, all of the detritus of a life could be escaped. The idea that every single thing that happens is recorded permanently and made easily available to everyone is a completely novel (and bizarre) thing.

This ability to start over is, I argue, a natural human right. It is a cruelty of the first rank to insist that every person be judged at any age by every single thing they have ever done. It makes youthful experimentation dangerous. It makes personal reform worthless. "I was a criminal. No matter what, outside my country, I will always be considered a criminal. Why bother to change?"

This is real. I have thought it myself because my life infractions are too light to be worth the hassle of trying to get Google to forget me. But, I have thought it. I have thought that I would prefer that some things that I have written online were not discoverable.

Note that no one is saying that the person or institution who had a beef with another person has to censor itself just that Google would not be allowed to sell the service of making a person's sensational past available to all comers.

Google's position has the, no doubt intentional, effect of making it so that the right to be forgotten is completely non-existent. On my computer at this exact moment, I can access Google in just about any country in the world (vpn, baby!). If I really care, I can turn myself into a local citizen Singapore and Google every, single person they 'forgot' in Germany.

I can hear the conservatives whine, "How will we know if a person has committed crimes or said mean things about us before we hire them?" Hard to imagine how civilization worked for the 3000 years before Google but, somehow, people did business, made new friends, and made progress when people had to be judged by who they were as they stood in front of you.

Google is an enemy of human freedom. It's bad enough that they favor corporations over people in their intellectual property policies. It's awful that they only respect the right to be forgotten in country's that pass a law. Now they want to make it so that you can only really be forgotten if we get every country I the world to pass that law.

As a consequence, every person's ability to move on with their life after something happens that would interfere with that is impaired because they want you to remain accessible as raw material for their products.

read more: Reflecting on the Right to be Forgotten

Sat Dec 10 2016 11:31:18 GMT-0600 (CST)