Brendan O'Neill on Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'


DOH4 / Foter / CC BY

Of all the horrible things in Nineteen Eighty-Four that have come true in recent years—from rampant thought-policing to the spread of CCTV cameras—surely the memory hole, the institutionalisation of forgetting, will never make an appearance in our supposedly open, transparent young century? After all, ours is a "knowledge society," where info is power and Googling is on pretty much every human's list of favorite pastimes.

Think again, writes Brendan O'Neill. The memory hole is already here. In Europe, anyway. We might not have actual holes into which pesky facts are dropped so that they can be burnt in "enormous furnaces." But the EU-enforced "right to be forgotten" does empower individual citizens in Europe, with the connivance of Google, to behave like little O'Briens, wiping from internet search engines any fact they would rather no longer existed.