The news of Google’s “U” turn over the “Right to be Forgotten” is most welcome. This is one Turkey that has not forgotten how to fly. It also reminds us that most of what we are told about the Internet is untrue . That which is possible or impossible depends more on the advice from the corporate lawyers of the dominant players than from the engineers who keep it running.
Hence the small print of the Google announcement – which can be seen as another step towards the Balkanisation of the Internet The “right to be forgotten” will only apply to the national websites across the EU.
I would prefer to see it, however, as a sign of the maturity and subtlety of Google’s approach to the pressures it faces and the lack of progress towards a pan-European Single Market despite all the harmonisation (alias formally agreed amibiguities). We can already see the problems that will arise, beginning with applications in the UK to delete references to criminal convictions that are not time expired and have not been over-turned on appeal.
Perhaps I was wrong to say that I thought Google’s shares were over-valued. It may already be planning its way into a break-up that will make its shareholders even richer – just as the main beneficiaries from the break up of Standard Oil included the Rockefeller family.
P.S. There is another angle to the right to be forgotten. This morning finally I got fed up with sluggish response times from my browser so I deleted the “history” including the cookies. The improvement was dramatic. I have yet to see what I have lost by doing so – although I would have prefered a selective choice, instead of all or nothing.
P.P.S. 11.30 – Jim Prideaux , who wipes his electronic footprint as carefully as his other footprints and fingerprints, has just pointed out that Google requires a photo ID. This appears to mean that those without recent driving licences or passports cannot request to be forgotten. I leave others to follow this thread into ever more interesting places.