GOOGLE’S LANDMARK MOVE

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The  “right to be forgotten” is valued as a landmark decision of the European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ). In brief, it allows the removal of names, information from search results which plaintiffs find to be ‘inadequate’ or ‘irrelevant’. Despite the wishy-washy character of the wording which could mean all or nothing to be removed, dependent on the subjective assessment of a court, it is a dangerous sentence in regard to the freedom of information, science, historical facts. At worst, genocides could disappear from the landscape of information under political influence.

A Landmark Move
Given these uncertainties, Google’s move to appeal France’s highness court has a landmark character itself, demanding clarity in the swampy thicket of wording. Until now, no notable European organisation sued in regard to this questionable sentence. Google shows balls in a situation where European authorities in Brussels have decided this company be their prior target in their conflict with the “American Internet Giants”, claiming monopoly issues.

The Alternative
The European Union’s Court of Justice decision should simply be removed, “forgotten”. This is the 21st century, the politics of suppressing information should be past history. Of course, deliberately false information have to be removed, which is not a matter of a nebulous “right to be forgotten”. All disputed information should not be removed as long as they are based on verifiable facts. The involved participants should have the right instead to add their views to the scrutinized information in comments, statements which clarify their position.

PROPOSAL FOR A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO THE “RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN”

A Danish lawyer goes to Paris to sue Google about a defamation issue. This sounds like a lot of juridical tourism to come. Not being satisfied with the verdict in one country, plaintiffs go to another country to try their luck again. As long as they have enough resources which means, „the right to be forgotten“ is a costly issue, suitable only to accordingly financed people.

But the issue goes deeper, is more worrisome. The “right to be forgotten” stands diametrical contrary to the achievements of the enlightenment. It pulls issues back into the dark of forgetting and becoming forgotten. Generations of historians had had a hard job to bring issues from the dark of being forgotten into the light of being known and becoming investigated.
There is a dangerous trait to manipulate history. Pharaohs withdrew the names of their predecessors from statues and shrines to make them forgotten. Recall the Auschwitz crimes and the enormous attempts in post-war Germany to make them forgotten. Which challenged the other side, to make them scrutinized in the light of science, it became the most investigated issue in history.
The right to be forgotten could evolve to a right to suppress unpleasant information. Political and other participants of all sort can sue to suppress knowledge, facts on the ground of defamation or false description.
People who were wronged by others will feel no real relief by this questionable right, because the issues can come back any time in a different robe. There is no guarantee for forgetting. When the issues revive, maybe one or two generations later, they cannot defend themselves anymore. Who takes then care of their reputation?
What could be an alternative?

1. Clarifying instead of suppressing
Because there will not be such a thing as a united view on a diverse discussed issue, it is more helpful to document all sides and angles to make them accessible. Completing perpetually the informations Instead of suppressing special views, on the ground of a diversity of incompatible juridical systems.

2. The right to be clarified  
Everyone should have the right to tell and publish his own story in case of discordance with a description of an issue. Often a story evolves over years, which should be documented and added to the issue, instead of being suppressed. Slanderer are quickly unmasked and become object of scrutiny themselves. In case of defamation those, whose name is clarified, can sleep better as always fearing a second attack on their reputation.

3. The impossibility of regional, national regulation 
The demand to delete an information globally, based on a local juridical decision is not feasible. Every other national or even regional judiciary can ignore the verdict and demand a re-installation of the information. The unfolding chaos of contradictory verdicts is conceivable.

4. Regulation by the global civil community
The decision to regulate an information on the global level should be settled by a global institution. An institution installed by the global civil community, not by the states or supra state organizations like the UN, which depend on the benevolence of national governments. The global civil society is maturing only by experiencing her own responsibility. The Internet is the best learning field imaginable.

OpenAI Inc.’s approach, a new model for science funding?

A group of Silicon Valley masterminds pledged $ 1 billion to fund artificial intelligence science on an open source base. Among the usual suspects are Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston.

While Google, Facebook, IBM, reportedly Apple et. al. invest heavily in for profit use of AI, the attempt is generally welcomed as a nonprofit complement. Increasingly the Silicon Valley ecosystem goes into traditional academic research. As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan and Zuckerberg initiative mark a new, though different approach to fund societal issues, the OpenAI approach could become a signal for a subsequent shift of state funded to private, non-profit funded basic science.

GOOGLE OPENS THE SECRET SEO VAULT

Good news for website developers, SEO pros: Google released a 160 pages pdf about its Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
According to Google’s statement:
“We often make changes to the guidelines as our understanding of what users wants evolves, but we haven’t shared an update publicly since then. However, we recently completed a major revision of our rater guidelines to adapt to this mobile world, recognizing that people use search differently when they carry internet-connected devices with them all the time.”
The manual includes information about web as well mobile SEO.
Download the “General Guidelines” 160 pages PDF, Google Inc, November 2015.