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Harvard Professor compares Google to “Soviet State”

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, Associate Professor at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachussetts, has criticised the increasing global tendency for everything on the Web, in telephony and in computing to be recorded, archived and kept forever.

He said, “In March 2007, Google confirmed that since its inception it had stored every search query every user ever made and every search result ever clicked on. Like the Soviet state, Google does not forget. Google remembers forever.”

He adds, “If whatever we do can be held against us years later, if all our impulsive comments are preserved…our words and actions may be perceived years later and taken out of context…the lack of forgetting may prompt us speak less freely and openly. Regardless of other concerns we may have, it is hard to see how such an unforgetting world could offer us the open society that we are used to today.” Read his study.

2 Comments to Harvard Professor compares Google to “Soviet State”

  1. August 30, 2007 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Remembered this link in a recent post of mine that deals with the same issue – http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/teaching-the-internet-and-web-to-forget-and-forgive/

  2. Chanuka's Gravatar Chanuka
    August 31, 2007 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Sanjana,

    Does ‘net’ remember everything? I do not think. In this aspect, net too works like a human brain. The nature of it is such that it retains some information and ‘forgets’ the rest. Not necessarily a conscious effort, but that is how it happens.

    Let me cite an example.

    In 2001, somebody named Chanuka (Ratwatte) was involved in an incident happened in Wattegama, and I found it very irritating that whenever I googled for my name so many items related to this incident appearing.

    Earlier it was more than 10-15 items appearing even in the first page of results, but after six years I find this bothers me no more. Now hardly anything related to this event appears when I search for my name – if so that is in the tail end, not first page.

    A good example that, just like us, the ‘net’ too has ‘forgotten’ most about it.

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