I am fairly sure that when digital technology really came to the fore a lot of people thought that paper based data either was dead or would soon be dead. But now, some 40 years on, it seems that paper is remorselessly showing us the benefit of its existence.
I thought of this most recently when I heard that the Court of Justice of the European Union had ruled that Google and other search engines can be ordered to delete links to outdated or offensive information about a person that is published on the Internet.
It seems that all you have to do is to write to Google, etc, and make the demand. Google then has to consider the request in detail to see if the information displayed about the person is still relevant and accurate.
If it isn’t, then the links to the relevant web pages have to be deleted unless Google can show good strong reasons not to do so.
Now immediately problems appear. First, the number of such requests could be huge. Google is well known for handing as much activity as it can over to robots, and yet this is exactly the sort of activity that needs human brains to investigate it. Lots of human brains in fact.
(Unless of course Google accedes to each request, and just allows its database to become further and further removed from reality.)
Second there is the whole issue of whether the data is accurate or not. How do you know if some personal data is right or not? And what if the data relates to two people and one says it is accurate and one that it is not? You or I might say, be cautious, cut the link. But this is Google which prides itself on covering everything – and at the moment at least it doesn’t have the staff to handle this sort of work on any sort of scale.
The ways in which the data is gathered are totally automated, so the amount of programming that will have to go into the system to stop gathering data on a particular person could be huge.
And then there is the dubious side of this – such as one search engine getting people to protest to another search engine over information, but not making the protest to the originator of the plot. The mind begins to boggle.
The clue to what is going on here comes from the original complaint in which a Spanish complainant asked for data relating to a past legal case to be removed from Google because the case had been settled. There was no doubt that the information Google linked to was lawful – but it was considered by the court to be inadequate and thus gave a false impression.
A newspaper, publishing the story of the complainant, could still mention the original court case but would have to say that everything had been resolved. A search via Google would only reveal the original court case and its finding.
So what does all this mean?
It means that even if Google was once a source of valid information it is certainly not so now. If you want to get a full picture of anything in the past then you need paper files – and that is why paper is indeed making a comeback.
In the case that led to the ruling against Google, no one is suggesting that the original files be destroyed – but simply that Google does not link to them.
Slowly, over time, we are seeing more and more situations in which the only way to get all the information you want, and to get a full picture and keep it secure, is through paper based files.
Which is why Admiral Document Storage continues to exist. If you have paper that needs storing that is what we do. We store it in such a way that you can inspect it at any time.
For more information on our document storage facility in the West Midlands click here to our website.