I may or may not avail myself
of the courts. As far as I can tell, the anonymous bile from that
period in my life has not affected me professionally. But should
I wish to pursue someone for telling lies, I’m entitled. That
deals with the problem at source: get rid of the content, rather
than just its listing on Google.
There is an exception to all this, which is the protection of private, ordinary people who never anticipated that, for example, the letters archive of an obscure men’s periodical might make its way online and their fruity comments about bosoms might be seen by future employers. In these cases, the smart thing to do is to contact the relevant publisher, who can add a bit of code to their website to stop Google picking up the page.
Google Glass has launched in the UK, priced £1,000. (The components are worth just $80.) Here’s my prediction: Glass will flop in the UK even more disastrously than it has in the US. The only people I’ve heard of who want a pair are dorky journalists and the occasional rich kid, who will likely try them on once and then lose them down the back of the full leather interior. Wearable tech is for creeps, and there’s no country on earth with as finely tuned a creepy radar as the United Kingdom. It’s unlikely we’ll see the same physical attacks on “explorers” , which are a function of San Francisco’s uniquely dysfunctional urban landscape. But I can’t promise I won’t get involved in a bit of harmless cat-calling, because there is something seriously wrong with you if you think Google Glass is acceptable—or cool—to wear around in public. Anyway, I hope they fail soon, because try saying “glasshole” in a British accent.
That’s not to say, of course, that we should take on the chin anything that is written about us. I once changed my surname, for melodramatic family reasons. When my last business failed, people I’d written about disobligingly in the past scented blood, and took to WordPress to post anonymous, hate-filled screeds that implied there was something sinister about the change. (As opposed to merely personally embarrassing: I look back on that period of my life and cringe.)
I’m inclined to agree. I don’t want Google to forget my transgressions, because they’re an important part of who I am. If a newspaper caught me lying, or stealing, or taking drugs—these are hypothetical situations, just to say—it’s crucial for me to come to terms with these things in order to move on.
Somebody call the doctor—a patient is relapsing. News has broken that payday loans company Wonga invented fake law firms and sent out letters purporting to be legal warnings, in order to scare customers who hadn’t kept up repayments. It has to pay £2.6m in compensation for the deception. It isn’t the first time Wonga has been caught out pretending to be someone else: earlier this year, it was revealed that the company was pushing loans through a number of “front brands,” such as Everline—presumably because Wonga’s own name is now so toxic. I’ve heard that some Wonga employees carry multiple business cards for different brands. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a case of multiple personality disorder this severe since Fight Club.
Public and semi-public figures, on the other hand, benefit professionally and financially from the exposure they get. They cannot cry foul when the attention turns against them either because they did something illegal or because through their own actions they have become an object of ridicule.
If your embarrassing past is still haunting you online, don't get rid of its listing on Google—get rid of the content itself. Francois Lenoir/Reuters
There’s an unwritten rule that journalists don’t sue. It’s something like a gentleman’s code of conduct. But perhaps it ought to read: journalists don’t sue each other . Because in a world where anonymous hatred might affect my ability to get a job, I’ve every right to send a letter before action and, if I really must, take someone to court to remove lies from the web.
You might consider the right to forget, in that context, as a sort of corrective measure: turning newspapers and magazines back into tomorrow’s fish and chips, so that ordinary people don’t have their lives ruined by juvenilia.
It’s part of a drive by celebrities and politicians to refashion the internet along the lines of an authorized biography, say some campaigners, who see the new “right to forget”—the ability to apply to Google for search results to be removed—as a censor’s charter.
Investor Paul Kedrosky supplies these graphs of pornography consumption around World Cup games. Finally, some data journalism we can all get behind. Dr. Kedrosky says the headlines write themselves, which, in the case of Italy’s colossal wanking binge after their victory against England, is certainly true.
And that’s where I think the bar should be set. By all means let’s protect ourselves from vile hate-bloggers, who cower in the shadows under assumed names. But if we get busted by a paper for wrongdoing, and the readers’ editor and Press Complaints Commission and the other assorted existing mechanisms fail to satisfy: take it to court, and prove the words are untrue or unfair.
So it seems obvious to me that newspaper websites should be exempt from this law: by definition, what they write about has been published because it is in the public interest. I haven’t always liked things written about me—in the British Guardian, in particular. But I would never ask that the coverage be removed from the internet.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a columnist and broadcaster. He writes a weekly column on technology, media and politics for Business Insider. His first book, The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley, will be published in 2015.
Venture capitalist Tim Draper has taken the biggest punt of his career, investing in almost 30,000 Bitcoins. He says he is going to provide liquidity to emerging markets. Bitcoin has been regarded with suspicion and ridicule in some developed economies, but imagine what disintermediating banks could do for the third world. That said, it’s tough to view anything Draper does seriously—let’s not forget the breathtakingly cringeworthy Draper University of Heroes.
If, after all that, you’re still unsatisfied, you might want to look a little closer to home for the source of your dissatisfaction with your public image.
It’s finally here: the official Kim Kardashian video game, which allows ordinary mortals to follow in the footsteps of America’s most down-to-earth female role model. But I can’t help but feel the game lacks a bit of realism. There doesn’t seem to be an option to record a sex tape, nor to embark on a 72-day wedding. Disappointingly, I am yet to be snubbed by the President for offering to support his re-election campaign. As for releasing fragrances so cloying they can be used in animal traps, my virtual business portfolio remains tragically fragrance-free. Must try harder.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has a brother, Adam. Adam Osborne converted to Islam in order to marry his current wife. Nothing inherently shameful in that, you may think: so why is Adam trying to have that information removed from the internet?
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