Rights to be forgotten

Our status updates and pictures live on servers. Where do they go to die?

Early this year, an EU court asked Google and other search engines to institute a facility to request to be forgotten and Google complied without dispute. That decision may conflict with our right to know but I save that topic for another day. Today I am not talking about that but about something related.

This year, two of my friends on Facebook passed away. Their Facebook profiles are still alive. I fear that someday a strange Facebook algorithm would pull out an old memory from their profiles and present it on my timeline. I am not sure if they had a will written on how they wanted to settle their belongings and real estate but I am sure they didn’t have means to prepare a cyber will.

This is something Facebook, Google and other service providers who trade in cloud/social networking services in exchange for our privacy, could do. As consumers who are willing to barter details of our private lives, we have a right to be forgotten after we are gone from this world. We should be able to decide how long a post, a picture or a profile should live.

What we blather often dissipate in thin air. Our books, letters and paper documents get faded, eaten by termites or get recycled. The status updates on the other hand, are God-like. Invincible, pervasive and deathless. They live limitless lives through server farms, get cloned for backups, mined for profits and surveillance and sold out for unknown ransoms without our knowledge. Your words and pictures are not yours anymore, once they bid farewell from your keyboard.

Unfortunately, true privacy is not a viable option anymore. Internet has changed the way we live our lives. Completely.

So, as customers, citizens, and most of all, as humans, who desire to live honorable and precious lives, we demand the right to be forgotten for the content we post on the web.

Our status updates too, need a time and place to die.