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West Considers History Amnesia Pill Law

In the Spirit of stretching political issues to the ridiculous, such as http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/04/china-bans-time-travel/, I bring the doom and gloom news that while China is banning the still non-existent technology of time travel, the West is considering banning history or any memory of it, especially those periods not appealing to any citizens.

http://paidcontent.org/article/419-europe-is-debating-a-right-to-forget-law-so-what-does-that-mean/

Around the same time France’s increasingly ultra-Right Wing ultra-Nationalist government and President were forcing through laws to deport unwanted Gypsies and banning Islamic face veils, Europe overall began to consider passing the “Right to Forget” laws, and now re-considering the laws again.

Privacy advocates framed this debate of “Right to Forget” as a matter of privacy, but they don’t want to just forget their own embarassing histories, they want the WHOLE of internet to erase and forget their own embarassing histories.

(Note again, how the debate is framed in terms of “Rights” and liberation).

At the forefront, a plastic surgeon in Spain wants Google to erase the search result linking a former patient who complained on blog about his surgical incompetency.

This isn’t about shutting down some factually dubious interpretation/opinion/social activism framed as “art”, this is actually about shutting down admitted truths and history and public knowledge.  (Undoubtedly, if a patient is lying about the Spanish surgeon’s performance, there are libel laws to protect the surgeon, but the surgeon is not asserting that the patient lied.  He is asserting “privacy”.)

So what if these laws pass?  What next?

Well, French citizens might demand that Google remove search links to Chinese history on the burning/looting of the Summer Palace, because of “right to forget”.  Who knows how far the law can be stretched?

While some critics doubt the chances of passage of the “right to forget” laws, I am not so sure, considering the recent history of what has passed as laws in France.

Lastly, this is not just about censorship to mold public opinions, this is about censorship to actually attempt to change facts of history.

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  1. Wukailong
    April 21st, 2011 at 08:16 | #1

    I would recommend reading the link in that article, rather than the article itself, which is so unclear that I would never have understood what the issue was about from it alone. It seems way more bizarre when phrased that way than it actually is.

  2. raventhorn2000
    April 21st, 2011 at 10:10 | #2

    well, we are trying to “escalate” the issue into another “revolution”.

    🙂

  3. April 22nd, 2011 at 01:50 | #3

    Yes I think the article misses the substance of the move, which is to protect privacy of individuals. In the West is has become a game to expose everything any celebrity does, to drag out any naked of pictures of him from ex lover and publish them online, to turn his life into a game to sell trashy news stories. Things like facebook make it possible for this sort of distasteful behavior to effect everyones life, we had a story recently about a school teacher whose naked pictures ended up with her students. Anything and everything you ever did as a kid might find its way back onto the internet for people to laugh about. It’s a destructive to the individuals, it’s an invasion of their liberty, and it’s a unhealthy for the society. In a way it’s the same sort of thing as China banning time TV travel trash or cleaning up blogs, it’s Europe taking baby steps to towards cleaning up their trashy culture.

  4. raventhorn2000
    April 22nd, 2011 at 06:13 | #4

    The article is supposed to be sarcastic.

    I’m not at all concerned about whether celebrities’ scandels appear in the internet. I’m concerned that “Right to Forget” laws will allow Western governments to assault history and facts, considering what kind of laws they have passed recently.

  5. Jack
    April 22nd, 2011 at 06:51 | #5

    This is really interesting. Ultimately I disagree with it, but I understand it. Imagine if at the age of 16 you did something stupid and then 30 years later, every time you apply for a job, this story appears when the company researches your name. Should something someone did 24 years previous still be allowed to determine their careers and maybe even marriage partners (most people research new dates online these days)?

    I don’t agree with pulling information in any way, because, you are right, there are too many slippery slopes there. However, I can see some people’s reasoning.

    I also don’t think non-censoring of information can be argued if you support the Chinese government on the same issues. The Chinese government censors tremendous amounts of information so that only their view is supported. It even alters history text books, changes images, and bans foreigners from bringing in maps contrary to the governement’s opinion. If the government can edit history by erasing parts they don’t like, it logically follows that people should be able to do so as well.

  6. April 22nd, 2011 at 07:24 | #6

    Jack,

    If one must talk about “censoring”, (and all governments censor), I think the severity of censorship of “opinions” vs. facts are completely different.

    In all laws, we already “censor” factual LIES in societies, we call them “defamation”. Indeed, it’s arguable that some “views” censored by the governments, including Chinese, German and French governments are just that “defamation”, factual lies used to defame.

    (I don’t know what instance of Chinese government “altering history textbooks” you are talking about.)

    “bans foreigners from bringing in maps contrary to the governement’s opinion”.

    Actually, those would be maps contrary to INTERNATIONAL recognized legal sovereignty positions, NOT just 1 government’s opinion, but many MANY government’s opinions.

    “If the government can edit history by erasing parts they don’t like, it logically follows that people should be able to do so as well.”

    You are not talking about erasing history the governments don’t like, but rather “opinions” that don’t stand up to reality, factual reality.

    Making up BS maps that are not recognized as legitimate is hardly considered “factual”, they may actually be defamation. (Seriously, I can make up property lines to draw up my “opinion” of where I think my property should be, does that make it “opinion”, or am I just out to infringe someone else’s rights?)

    And you are using that to justify that “people should do so as well”?

    And I thought “People” are supposed to check and balance the power of the Governments, NOT imitate the Governments.

    No wonder the People in “democracies” keep electing fools into their governments.

  7. April 22nd, 2011 at 07:50 | #7

    Some times, I don’t know why some activists want to frame every thing as “opinions”.

    It’s this sort of mentality that leads US in debating whether “evolution” is science.

    Seriously, let’s just say that some things are more RECOGNIZED truthful than others.

    I mean, none of us will know History in all its completeness from every perspective, but there are more recognized versions of History.

    Sure, it may be “written by the man with the bigger guns”, but a new “map” made up by a bunch of activist is not “history” in any sense of the word.

  8. April 22nd, 2011 at 08:15 | #8
  9. Black Pheonix
    July 3rd, 2014 at 13:25 | #9

    So, as it turns out, my gut feeling was right, and this is turning into a giant turd of a legal irony for “free speech”.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/03/google_right_to_be_forgotten_takedown_robert_peston_bbc/

    Near 3 years after my post above, Europe is descending into a legal regime of collective self-denial, or “right to be forgotten”, as they call it.

    And it’s not just for a FEW individuals here and there for privacy concerns, Google alone received some 50,000 requests to be “forgotten” in search results. And it’s not just the search engine companies, it’s also gotten to the media companies like BBC.

    And the process is “taken down 1st”, and appeals are not certain at this point.

    What it means is that “censorship” is now spread to the hands of individuals and even corporations, for reasons such as mere embarrassing information, even if they are facts of public knowledge.

  10. July 16th, 2014 at 13:37 | #10

    Remember people used to laugh at Soviet, Chinese, Communist removal of leaders in pictures after the leader fell from grace? Should we now laugh at links being removed for privacy reason? Once the mechanisms is available, the reason can change. It’s for privacy now … but it could be for a whole host of other reasons really…

  11. Black Pheonix
    July 16th, 2014 at 16:31 | #11

    @Allen

    http://eater.com/archives/2014/07/15/food-blogger-fined-3400-dollars-for-negative-review-interview.php

    It just got even worse. Food blogger’s review article was deemed “too popular” for a negative article, and now forced by French Court to change the title.

    *
    On side note: there is a site now tracking the “forgotten links”,

    http://www.cnet.com/news/hidden-from-google-tracks-sites-removed-from-internet-searches/

    http://hiddenfromgoogle.com/

    It exposes the problem to be even worse. Because when a link is “forgotten”, it basically bans ALL of the most relevant search terms from the search engines.

    Since you can try 1000’s of terms, and it still won’t show up the forgotten link, a user actually gets nothing but gibberish. (Giving POSITIVE impression sites, rather than the negative ones).

    *

    On another side note: Google search ranking is highly secretive, could be manipulative.

    If a link is ranked lowered in rank, then it is effectively made irrelevant and forgotten. (Most users don’t scroll beyond the 1st page of search results).

    Then, an argument could be made that Google is arbitrarily censoring links via its ranking of search results.

  12. July 19th, 2014 at 01:19 | #12

    @Black Pheonix

    On another side note: Google search ranking is highly secretive, could be manipulative.

    Google already manipulates for commercial reasons. Even though the EU regulators didn’t find enough evidence to punish Gooogle (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219592520327884), there were definitely a lot of smoke (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704058704576015630188568972?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052748704058704576015630188568972.html). The EU decision I believe was politically motivated anyways.

    “Although some evidence suggested that Google was trying to eliminate competition, Google’s primary reason for changing the look and feel of its search results to highlight its own products was to improve the user experience,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

    Well, perhaps Google will one day think that eliminating competition is good for the user, and that would be ok, because the goal is to do good…?

    This line of thinking defeats what antitrust is all about.

    Finally, Google has already admitted to purposely moving a site down 5-6 pages because the site owners were playing SEO games that Google did not like (http://www.christophercantwell.com/2013/12/26/google-openly-admits-to-manipulating-search-results/). As that article points out, if Google can target a particular url and manipulate search result relating to it on the ground that it does not like how the site owners are promoting its site, then surely the same company that is in bed with NSA to snoop on Google users should have no problem sanitizing results that presents national security issues, too…

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