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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Right to be Forgotten?

I was listening to an Intelligence Squared debate as I drove my daughter back to her mother's house this evening, the debate was regarding the 'right to be forgotten' they've dubiously established in Europe.

To me, it's logical enough, libel laws already cover it: if it's bullshit, sue, if it's true, live with it. Yes, there was more privacy regarding the true facts of your misconduct and whatnot before the internet, but the rising tide of transparency raises all equally, so while you might prefer an indiscretion from your past remain secret in ways it would have by default in 1979, everyone else with similar histories is equally exposed by the internet.

One of the arguments for the right to be forgotten online (not really to have the information struck, but to have it not show up in a Google search), was the notion that you should't be defined at age 50 by something you did or said at 17 or 18 years old. Fair enough, I was a total boob at that age and if the things I said at the time were totally searchable and fully indexed, it would be embarrassing to me. It would also be small beer, I was an IRA sympathizer and a bit of a socialist. I now know better than to think blowing up shopping malls and school kids will resolve a political problem, and I definitely know that whatever mistakes the market makes, a bunch of government bureaucrats make the market look like a fucking genius.

But you shouldn't be defined for the rest of your life by a mistake you made as a teenager? I dunno, maybe there's an exception or two to be made there.

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