The European Union’s new law giving people a “right to be forgotten,” which requires Google to remove links to information about them, is having exactly the effect its critics predicted: It is censoring the internet, giving new tools that help the rich and powerful (and ordinary folk) hide negative information about them, and letting criminals make their histories disappear.
Exhibit A: Google was required to delete a link to this BBC article about Stan O’Neal, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch. O’Neal led the bank in the mid-2000s, a period when it became dangerously over-exposed to the looming mortgage crisis. When the crisis hit, Merrill’s losses were so great the bank had to be sold to Bank of America. O’Neal lost his job, but he exited with a $161.5 million golden parachute.
Concentration of power at the top is a lot like climate change: People don’t believe in it until it’s too late, and as soon as it starts happening it accelerates in speed and severity.