I wrote a little while ago about the European Court ruling which effectively means that if you ask Google or any other major search engine to delete links to any pages about you, they have to oblige. It is known already as the “right to be forgotten”.
When I wrote that article the whole issue was brand new. Since then we have started to see further ramifications. Someone somewhere asked Google to remove an article written by the esteemed Robert Peston of the BBC from its indexes. The BBC spotted this, and they objected. So the article is now un-deleted (if there is such a word).
Over time this process is going to make a difference to the internet – but of course that difference is only just starting. For example if there turns out to be a real desire to find information that is no longer indexed by Google etc, people will start publishing it in magazines and in book form.
Now I find that interesting because what might be presumed by some people (not readers of my emails of course but some of what I might call the “lower orders”) that the bits that are being deleted, are the exciting bits.
This will then mean that we could quite soon see adverts on Google (known as Google Ad Words) which advertise indexes to files which are still on the internet but which can’t be found on Google!
Of course for that to happen anyone interested in researching such data is going to have to retrieve the data, store it and publish it in some form other than digitally. What us old timers still like to refer to as “books and magazines”.
Suddenly there will be something in print which isn’t on the internet – the first time that has happened for maybe 10 years.
And the law won’t help stop such books and magazines emerging. For as long as we are dealing with the truth, rather than some invented allegations, then the stories can be told publicly. And it means putting them in books.
How long before the first volume of “Forgotten by Google” appears? I can’t tell you, but I suspect that just before it turns up in the bookshops, copies of the original documents, hurriedly printed from pages before those pages were forgotten by Google, will be stored in facilities such as Admiral Document Storage.
Or maybe even as I write this, programmers are writing programs that find the files forgotten by Google. Because those original files are still there – it is only the links that are gone.
I’m neutral in all of this – not sure if the Right to be Forgotten is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just fascinated at how short a time it has taken for the circle to be completed.
For years it seemed that the drive towards digitalisation and the abandonment of printing and publishing seemed inexorable. Now I think I have spotted the turning point.
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