Feeds

back to article Google's Schmidt calls for 'DELETE from INTERWEBS' button

Google head honcho Eric Schmidt has called for measures to delete information from the internet. Speaking at an event held in New York University, the Google chief executive warned that mistakes made in a person's youth could haunt them forever. He said the internet needs to have a delete button to expunge any previous …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

Schmidt

For someone who is chief executive of probably the world's biggest internet company it's incredible how little he understands said internet.

17
2
Silver badge

Re: Schmidt

I take it you haven't met many CEOs of tech companies. Schmidt is marginally above the median in his tech grasp - which explains many things.

2
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Schmidt

He's friends with Ted Stevens and his series of tubes. I don't think I need to go on.

0
0
Bronze badge
Headmaster

Re: "it's incredible how little he understands"

Not just the Internet, but law, sovereign jurisdictions and personal liberty.

If there were a One World Government to which every citizen on Earth were accountable...

And if every single device that could display archived data on the Internet could be physically and legally controlled by that government...

Then it might have a slim chance of censoring the Internet.

Maybe.

But with so many governments and so many sovereign jurisdictions and so many citizens free to defy the arrogant yet futile demands of some foreign tin-pot dictator, frankly the chances of totally eradicating any given data from the Internet are less than zero.

"Erasure" might be the kindest thing, in some circumstances, but ultimately the right thing is the truth, not censorship.

And in any case it's a moot point, because no one can control every single person on Earth, which is what you'd need to do in order to completely stop the dissemination of any given information.

Just thought I'd spell that out for you, Eric.

(Oh, and P.S., that's also the reason all anti-"piracy" measures are doomed to failure.)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Schmidt

DELETE - DELETE - DELETE....

How else can I keep details of 'my affairs' out of your beady search results....?

Besides, all the 1% elites in my Google+ are asking me the same question!

/Schmidt

3
0
Unhappy

Re: "it's incredible how little he understands"

I would argue that the right thing is to remember that everyone has done silly things when they were younger. If they were growing up now they'd probably have shared them with their friends using face book or some other social media. However those actions and words can no longer haunt people in their late 30's or older because, in general, they were never committed to a public medium.

The youth of today aren't so lucky as they have grown up in an era where conversing online is just as normal as conversing in person/over the phone. So the time of their life to make silly mistakes and learn how to get along in society is now going to follow them forever. How is that the right thing to do? And how is that different from all the old "The sins of the father..." type adages that people used to get tarred with.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Schmidt

Oddly, Schmidt has some technical chops - he is the co-author of the original lex,[1] after all. And he worked at Bell Labs and Xerox PARC, which are not generally places for the completely clueless. But somewhere along the way he seems to have decided to abstract his thinking away from technical niceties in favor of making vague pronouncements about what IT ought to do, rather than considering what it is practical and plausible to do with IT.

[1] That is, the lexical-analyzer-generator of that name often included with UNIX distributions. Obviously he did not invent the lexical analyzer per se. And no, lex isn't a work of genius; many CS students throw together a lexical-analyzer-generator as part of coursework, for example. (I myself wrote one from scratch in scheme, and have done a couple of special-purpose one-off generators in C for DSLs that didn't need full-on lex-style treatment.) But it requires some understanding of moderately technical concepts.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

For starters....

OK, for starters, how about allowing Google Mail users to specify how long items are to be held in trash, sent, and spam before deleted (rather than the fixed 30 days it is now)?

1
4

Gmail

How about if Gmail actually deleted stuff every once in a while, rather than just marking it as deleted.

I'm sure I'm not the only Gmail user who's logged in and discovered that every email I've deleted over the last few years has suddenly reappeared.

2
0

A delete button would only be practicable

If there were a very small number of companies indexing, caching and even hosting content. Preferably just one, otherwise who would the delete button notify?

I'm sure that never crossed his mind.

5
0

Re: A delete button would only be practicable

It probably did cross his mind, I think it was a case of wishful thinking, rather than a workable idea.

1
0
Gold badge

Or, in other words....

"We've just noticed that we may actually have to do something about this EU 'right to be forgotten' legislation, so we may as well spin it to look like we're the good guys."

15
0
Boffin

Ctr-Alt-Del

No way a delete button will ever be created without the control and alter keys attached. Effectively rebooting the Internet into something what's not the Internet. Shockingly Schmidt doesn't understand the nature of the copy and the pseudo-anarchy which enables and fuels the very web he eats from.

Maybe ate a bit too much from....

0
1
Anonymous Coward

That's quite a turnaround.

Wasn't Schmidt's previous mutterings on this 'probably just easier to change your name'?

9
0
Silver badge

Re: That's quite a turnaround.

I'd guess that he found something about himself online that he'd rather was forgotten.

(Maybe some pictures from a wild college party?)

2
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: That's quite a turnaround.

Funny, but you do realize that even changing your name doesn't work.

There is still going to be a public record between your new name and your old name so that all of the data will still exist.

The only way to get stuff off the web is to die and no longer generate net new data. Of course if you are dead, you will not care what is said about you on the web....

Just saying....

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: That's quite a turnaround.

You're right; the data will still exist, but will it be obscure enough to be missed by HR drones and lazy journalists? That's more-or-less what's important.

0
0
FAIL

I'm sorry?

Err does this fucktard understand the intarwebs? Once it's digital and posted or sent anywhere it's "out there" FOREVER. Idiot.

2
5

Re: I'm sorry?

That isnt really true though is it?

yes, the page about you from 10 years ago may still exist, but the search engine can choose not to display it in the list of results?

Would mean a bit of work on Google's side (and everyone else if this is enacted as law in the EU), but could be done.

5
2

Re: I'm sorry?

Yes, but that would just result in new search engines springing up specialising in finding "deleted" information. At that point, have we really gained anything by adding this functionality to Google?

Would the fact that Google had some "missing" results end up meaning that people viewed Google as the less capable search engine? Would Google sit back and allow that to happen, or would they just put the "deleted" results back in?

1
0

Re: I'm sorry?

Not sure what you are driving at. There are pages older than 10 years beyond counting that are still well worth seeing. No way is Google going to de-index content based on age. And rightly so.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

My Irony Meter has just broken!

Google, the harvester of all private information, commoditising us and our personal data for resale, are suggesting there should be a 'delete my data button'?!

HAHAHAHAHA...Bonk - I've just laughed my head off!

8
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: My Irony Meter has just broken!

You do know there's a Google dashboard where you can see and delete all your information that Google holds. Along with a cookie, cache and other history that can all be removed simply (unlike Microsoft which stores your history in the index.dat file even when in incognito - http://metadataconsulting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/inprivateincognito-browsing-leaves.html)

They are probably the most transparent in that respect of any of the big 4.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Can't see how it will work.

Lets say somebody completely annihilates me in some sport or other when we both youths. Now I might want that expunged from the internet since I am embarrassed about it, but the person who beat me will want it kept because they are proud of their sporting achievement. Who gets to decide whether it is expunged or kept?

A similar argument for criminal acts can also be made. As an example, I attempt to mug an OAP but another youth bravely thwarts my dastardly deed. Again, I want it expunged but the other youth wants it kept.

The problem is, that most of what you do in life involves other people (I expect a few wankers will argue about this) and therefore if you are deleting an incident in your history you are also deleting it in theirs and they might not want it forgotten.

6
0
ACx

Re: Can't see how it will work.

Brilliant point. It pretty much destroy the entire idea.

0
0

Re: Can't see how it will work.

This resolves to my point ... who owns a particular thing on the net? Things can only be deleted if ownership can be ascribed and proved. That, of course, is a very double-edged sword, assuming it was possible (some sort of meta-tag, perhaps). But what about news reports about Bill doing something naughty? How will Bill ever get that deleted, since he is unlikely to own the news report....

0
0

Re: Can't see how it will work.

I would imagine that the end result will somewhat mimic the way that newspapers are archived. First into boxes and then onto microfiche. So web information will become more static and harder to get at.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't see how it will work.

Did you read the comment or just the title?

The comment has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how stuff will be physically archived.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Isn't going to happen.

Even the EU Brusselcrats can't control black data bases.

Ever wonder why Fair Isaac doesn't reveal the basis for its score? Because, they keep the original data and the order for delete, so that your score can be accurately reduced ("where there is smoke, there is fire!" woo hoo).

Multiply by a few hundred known black data bases (excluding government ones) and the ctrl-schmidt-del three finger button salute just won't work.

Perhaps, possibly, eventually, as the sun burns down to a dull red cinder, information entropy will degrade whatever it is you want to delete, and that whatever it is will become unreachable. Maybe. But don't hold your breath.

The best solution not to leak information to start with. But if the cat is out filthy bag, then: lie. Shroud the truth in lies so no one believes any of it.

1
0
ACx

"In America, there's a sense of fairness that's culturally true for all of us. "

Comedian, is he? Fairness? Yeah, for Americans, sure, but ask about American fairness across the planet, and if lucky, you'll just get laughter.

5
2
Silver badge
Happy

Too late for us, but you can protect your children by giving then the commonest name you can think of. If there are 5000 John Smiths in Cambridge then the more data you have on all of them the less meaning it actually has.

3
0

That's already happening...you wouldn't believe how many kids in my son's elementary school are named "Aiden" and "Preston."

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Not too late to change your name to Eric Schmidt ...

0
0
Silver badge

Rewriting history?

That trick never works, Bullwinkle.

And of course, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" ...

0
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Check is in the mail.

This is one step to putting a government body to the internet.

First, corporations do it, then governments like the idea. Then governments give tax "incentives" to companies that "comply". Then some asshole corporation who needs more "incentive" somehow spins "Online Citations" as a good idea. Next thing I know, I'm being cited for trespassing and littering on some random blog that I can no longer visit due to a "Browsing Order", which prohibits me from coming within 1 octet of it at all times. Then comes the processing and convenience charges for the litigation of these payments, which involves a private corporation that will market, I mean handle my details and payment.

Yes, it is super paranoid.

0
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

2 Things

1. There are already companies who do this for a price.

2. He and them are both unclear on the entire concept of the Internet.

Hello! It was designed to withstand a nuclear war! (I didn't say intact, just survive)

The best you can hope for is to be lost in the noise. Something I've been seeing lot more of over the years, making many searches almost useless.

0
0
Silver badge

@ecofeco (was: Re: 2 Things)

"It was designed to withstand a nuclear war!"

Common misconception. It was designed to be a research network to research networking. That's all. Still is, in some ways. The entire "nuclear war" myth came about many years after we first went "live".

0
2
Bronze badge
Meh

um.....

The problem with changing your name or giving your kids the most common name you can think of is - there is this search engine - you might of heard of it.... I'm just trying to remember it's name, it's got an "oogle" type sound in it's name.... anyway it gives you the ability to drag a photo into the search box... like.... the sort that might be submitted with a Job Application (or the employer might take a photo of you at your first interview) and then this search engine works it's magic and returns a whole list of images that look a bit like the one you provided, along with links where each image came from - it's actually pretty good at taking a photo of someone you lost touch with and providing you with their Facebook page for instance,

Point is - if an employer want's to skip searching through the noise - they can just search by your picture instead.

0
0
Silver badge

Expiration date?

What a concept?

Maybe what people "collect" (like search engines do) should put an expiration date on everything they collect. If it is there the next time around, the date gets renewed. If not, the data must "die". Of course there might be exceptions (the Wayback machine is quite useful at times), but personal data should have a "destroy" date.

Of course, I'm dreaming, but that is what I do sometimes.

0
0
Mushroom

Um, right now facebook seems to have deleted my wall.

0
0
Coat

There already was one

However I wondered what would happen if I deleted the Delete button, so it now no longer exists.

1
0
Childcatcher

Clever move by Google

I’m not surprised Google want this at all. In order for Google to make the most money out of selling the information they have it needs to be relevant.

If you went on a skiing holiday and used Google to get all the information you needed then told Google exactly what you thought about every aspect of your trip. You may think that this information would be priceless to Google as they can sell it to the advertisers of snow sports as they know everything about your likes and dislikes in snow sports. Except the information is basically worthless as your ski trip was ten years ago, and snow sports companies know that some of the information they get from Google will be like this.

The overall value of the information is lower as it may no longer be relevant, as it the ski trip. If Google got a law passed that says all information over a certain age has to be deleted, the value of the information they have on people would go up, as it is more likely to be relevant, and Google search would be in the same position it is now, as all other search providers would also have to delete old information.

Clever move by Google, make it look like they are thinking about privacy, but actually be thinking about how to get more cash for the information they already have.

0
0
Bronze badge

In the meantime

A handy implement for getting toothpaste back in the tube would be more feasible and perhaps even more widely appreciated and understood.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

NO DELETE BUTTON!

People need to learn from mistakes!

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

On a serious note ...

Where will the internet end ? YouTube just recently announced that every second 8 hours worth of content[1] is being uploaded.

There is more and more historic data coming online, plus the growing number of world citizens with access to the internet, busy generating content.

No matter how much storage you have, eventually something has to give

There's also the matter of the more that's out there, the less it's worth. A little like speeding points now. So many drivers have them most insurers ignore the first 3. In the future, it might be so common to have some indiscretion on the interwebs it means nothing.

0
0
Happy

But why does Schmidt REALLY want this... :-D

1) There's never been any such thing as a right to be forgotten. Even in pre-digital ages, stupid and harmful things people did when they were young and foolish came back to bite them later. That's life. You can't legislate away consequences. Spend the time and effort instead teaching kids to understand what they do today can potentially completely screw up their lives later. Laws that only "bolt the stable door after..." etc. are useless.

2) Too much information already gets erased from the sum of human knowledge, whether we intend it or not. On the whole, given enough time, society inevitably loses huge chunks of both irrelevant and useful data. Even what we really NEED to keep - what we benefit from preserving - is too often trashed. The last thing we need is laws increasing data attrition.

3) Far, FAR more worrisome than being haunted by the past? Digital information storage gets us no closer to preservation of NECESSARY knowledge from one generation to the next. In fact, it may have worsened the loss of knowledge.

For example, as has been discussed ad nauseam, we can still read documents recorded on stone, clay, papyrus and paper, from thousands of years ago. Groups and individuals used to honor oral traditions as well. But we've short-sightedly argued digital storage is superior to these "antiquated" methods....despite the scary fact we have NO guarantee digitally-recorded information, in any format, will be accessible or recoverable a hundred years from now, much less a thousand.

Heaven forbid we compound this looming potential disaster by handing people a more effective way to wipe out archived data.

4) Society can't afford to "forget" some things because of the harm a "right to be forgotten" could do to society as a whole. One simple example: criminal records of ADULT offenders should never, and hopefully will never, be expunged or forgotten. For society to "forget" most crimes would eliminate one of the biggest deterrents to crime.

Sure the fear of being dogged by a criminal record for the rest of one's life won't deter everyone. And sure, some people will have trouble escaping mere association with crimes, even victims of those crimes (and I do sympathize with innocent victims).

However, the knowledge breaking a law today can crush your future hopes, dreams, and achievements, ruin your life; prevent you ever getting what you most want...well, that's a proven deterrent to crime, a proven deterrent to a lot of stupid, potentially disastrous actions. Stopping and thinking about the consequences does a hell of a lot more good than trying to go back later and erase the record, pretend it never happened.

Besides, people go on turning their lives around and recovering from past actions, even horrible ones - and they do so without begging for the past to be "forgotten". They acknowledge what they did, make amends if they can, and build a better future where they don't do those things anymore.

======

So when any individual starts pissing and moaning that the past should have a "delete" key, the first question I ask is: What does that individual WANT everyone to forget? What is there in that person's past that would warn others not to be, say, the next victims of a similar "mistake"?

Let's ignore the technological ridiculousness of Mr. Schmidt's statement (a delete key for the Internet? Sheesh, what a maroon) and direct our energies toward a worthy and more enjoyable goal: Finding out what Eric Schmidt would like to make go away...and why it matters to him all of a sudden.

Scuttlebutt, anyone? I'm all ears. :-D

1
0
This topic is closed for new posts.