The right to be forgotten has failed utterly

It is hardly surprising that the "right to be forgotten" has not sat well with the English speaking press. The first amendment has long protected the American press from most forms of censorship, while the British press subsists on the myth, if not the reality, of 300 years of press freedom.

Since the ruling several methods have subverted to undermine attempts to implement it, with some news outlets posting new articles pointing towards removed pages while others, including ourselves, teach you how to set up a proxy or make use of alternative search engines.

But since June web developer Afaq Tariq has been compiling redacted links on his website Hidden From Google. Unlike other attempts it serves as a direct confrontation with the ruling, though as Tariq lives in New Jersey he is allowed to hide behind the first amendment.

"This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the internet," he said. "It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU."

The contradiction is that his list violates the alleged rights of those who wish to be forgotten under the European court’s ruling. Tariq may be neutral philosophically, but his actions are not.

Aside from giving succour to those who campaign against censorship, Hidden from Google demonstrates another important point: the internet does not respect borders. Brussels may wish to protect data and reputations, but unless copyright infringement is at stake it is unlikely to go down the path of URL blocking, as several nations have done with the Pirate Bay.

In the best tradition of consensualist government the EU has created a rule that irritates some while failing utterly to placate others. It should censor properly or mind its own business.

Type: White Paper


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