Feeds

Prof advocates digital forgetfulness, calls Google 'Soviet'

But can't quite remember why

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Mayer-Schoenberger proposes that the digital world should move "from remembering forever to forgetting over time." Being a software entrepreneur with a bunch of law degrees, it's perhaps unsurprising that he suggests that this be achieved "with a combination of law and software".

The professor sees many benefits in requiring all software to be written so as to forget things rather than remember them.

"Google and other search engines may have to change their practices," he says. "No longer would they be able to store search queries forever."

There's more. "Amazon would have to adjust," he writes, and theorises that customers could "perhaps experience surging accuracy in Amazon's recommendations. After all, whose literary preferences stay constant over years?"

Cookies, mobile phone call records, surveillance-camera footage - all would automatically delete themselves in the medium-to-short term.

The professor seems to yearn for a happier old-school style of information recording. "In the world of post-its and napkins, the default of forgetting...or at least losing...is quite obviously built in," he says wistfully.

"My proposal aims to reintroduce the concept of forgetting over time."

Again, a slight linguistic struggle is required to avoid saying something like "we need to remember how to forget stuff".

The full paper is available here (pdf). Presumably it will be set to delete itself shortly, so get it while you can.

Professor Mayer-Schonberger sums up by reminding us of the critical need for a "fundamental shift from remembering to forgetting that is so central to our society's fundamental values."

And don't you forget it. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.