The right to be forgotten.

The great dream of John Perry Barlow and other Internet pioneers back in the 1990s was that it would become a force for human freedom—that government and corporations would become transparent, and that individuals, through the power of cryptography, would be empowered to act freely and anonymously.

Instead individuals are becoming more and more transparent not only to police and spy agencies, but to employers, lenders, credit rating agencies and advertisers.   The fact that the information is not necessarily accurate or complete makes the situation worse.

It is corporations and government agencies that have the power to alter records and send embarrassing facts down the memory hole, as Winston Smith did in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  

This is not a question of technology, or at least not exclusively a question of technology.  It is a question of whether we the people have the power and the will to set legal limits to power and enforce those limits.

We should start by insisting on transparency of government.  We can’t protect our privacy until we have the means of knowing what is done to invade or privacy.   And we can’t rely on government to protect us from corporate exploitation if its operations are hidden from us.

LINKS

Yes, Jimmy Wales, There Is a Right to Be Forgotten by Ted Rall for PandoDaily.

The Internet With a Human Face by Maciej Ceglowski at the Beyond Tellerand 2014 Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany.

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