1 Jun, 2014 @ 17:00
1 min read

Rewriting history

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IT is truly scary to ponder the complete control Google has over the internet, and information as a whole.

Under the new European Court ruling, people may now ask the search engine to remove past stories about them from turning up in searches.

And if it isn’t on Google, let’s face it, it pretty much doesn’t exist.

The man who tried to kill his family could now have any mention of the evil deed wiped, and so according to Google, it never happened.

The same could be said of a fraudster or sex offender, who has apparently mended his ways.

This is censorship, Tippexing out selected past events as if they never took place, and it smacks of a dystopian 1984 world.

But in practical terms, it seriously hampers journalistic investigations and also personal research, allowing dirty secrets to be hidden.

It is certainly a far cry from the free press that Spain’s King Juan Carlos proclaimed was so vital to democracy at the recent awards ceremony for International Journalism Prizes.

Tom Powell

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  1. “The man who tried to kill his family could now have any mention of the evil deed wiped”

    This story has many inaccuracies. Google would only remove links to the articles; the actual articles, themselves, would remain intact, so there is no censorship of the institutions that write the stories. Also, Google’s European servers are only affected. the US google.com would be unaffected and the same content could be found there no doubt.

    Serious journalistic investigations need to go well beyond Google; Google is manipulated massively by third parties and much content is often inaccurate second-hand information, as well as totally fabricated. Perhaps it will make journalism better? After all, some of the best journalism of the past was done without reliance on Google. I don’t recall Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein flipping open their iPhones lol.

    What is more worrying is when organisations remove whole swathes of information spanning many years from the Internet, for example like the Conservative party recently did in the UK with policy information. However, that is the nature of the Internet and saving everything written on the web smacks of a surveillance state, as we are now seeing with the NSA revelations.

    Google is a great tool, but in my opinion now requires regulation. Regulating electronic information systems is a nightmare in itself of course. People do not realise the amount of surveillance and data-mining that these systems actually do. Who watches the watchers?

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