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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner: Sorry, but there’s no online ‘right to be forgotten’

A man walks into a library. He asks to see the librarian. He tells the librarian there is a book on the shelves of the library that contains truthful, historical information about his past conduct, but he says he is a changed man now and the book is no longer relevant. He insists that any reference in the library’s card catalog and electronic indexing system associating him with the book be removed, or he will go to the authorities.
The librarian refuses, explaining that the library does not make judgments on people, but simply offers information to readers to direct them to materials from which they can make their own judgment in the so-called “marketplace of ideas.” The librarian goes on to explain that if the library had to respond to such requests, it would become a censorship body — essentially the arbiter of what information should remain accessible to the public. Moreover, if it had to respond to every such request, the burden would be enormous and there would be no easy way to determine whether a request was legitimate or not. The indexing system would become swiss cheese, with gaps and holes. And, most importantly, readers would be deprived of access to historical information that would allow them to reach their own conclusions about people and events.
The librarian gives this example: What if someone is running for office but wants to hide something from his unsavory past by blocking access to the easiest way for voters to uncover those facts? Voters would be denied relevant information, and democracy would be impaired.
The man is not convinced, and calls a government agent. The government agent threatens to fine or jail the librarian if he does not comply with the man’s request to remove the reference to the unflattering book in the library’s indexing system.
Is this a scenario out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four? No, this is the logical extension of a recent ruling from Europe’s highest court...

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1 comment:

Schitzree said...

It truelly is shocking that ANY court would agree that this 'post-facto' censorship would be appropriate, just becouse someone would argue that their past mistakes should stay in the past.