Coming to grips with an Internet that never forgetsGeist-48X68.jpg
Posted by Michael Geist

My weekly technology law column discusses the implications of an Internet that never forgets. I note that the most significant Internet effect during the current campaign has not been any particular online video, website or Facebook group. Instead, it has been the resignation of eight local candidates based on embarrassing or controversial information unearthed online. Many observers have blamed the revelations on inadequate vetting processes, yet the reality is that these incidents shine the spotlight on an important but rarely discussed aspect of the Internet. Old blog postings, chat room discussions, or difficult-to-explain videos are captured by search engine databases and lie dormant until an intrepid searcher comes across it. In other words, the Internet never forgets. The effect of a technology that never forgets marks a dramatic change in the way that we deal with the past. Most people have older embarrassing stories or incidents that they would prefer to forget. Before the emergence of the Internet and cheap data storage, they had little reason to fear that these might come to light. Today's digital generation will have a much different relationship with their past. In an always-on environment, videos, photographs, blog postings, and discussion room comments live forever online. There are certainly great advantages to creating large, personal archives that are immediately accessible with sophisticated search technologies. However, as the now former election candidates recently learned, there is also great potential for negative consequences. Click here to read more of Michael's blog.

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