London: Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, has said that European proposals to regulate the web were “impractical” and the so-called “right to be forgotten” online was “not possible to achieve”.
European regulators have not yet clarified exactly what this “right” would mean, but European Commissioner Viviane Reding has said that she expects it to give web users new controls over information, such as posts or pictures on social networks, that appears about them online.
It raises the prospect of Facebook or Google being forced to ensure images or posts that an individual objects to are no longer accessible on the web.
“You can`t go out and remove content from everybody`s computer just because you want the world to forget about something. I don`t think it`s a practical proposition at all,” the Telegraph quoted Cerf as saying.
Britain`s Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith recently said at a seminar for lawyers that he had “difficulty in working out what the new rights are”, adding that the right to be forgotten contained “an element of political gesturing.”
Cerf, who now works for Google, said that implementing the legislation risked encouraging “contempt for the law” among citizens.
“It`s very, very hard to get the internet to forget things that you don`t want it to remember because it`s easy to download and copy and reupload files again later,” he said.
“The analogue [equivalent of this digital idea] is terrifying; if somebody said `I want everyone to forget about this book that I published because it`s embarrassing`, how would you implement that?
“You would have to break in to people`s homes and take the book off the bookshelves. There`s some legal issues with that and it seems to me that it shouldn`t be any easier in the online world,” he added.
Cerf, often called the father of the internet, said that implementing the legislation risked encouraging “contempt for the law” among citizens.
He was speaking to The Daily Telegraph to mark the opening of the new Life Online Gallery at Bradford`s National Media Museum, which will look specifically at the impact of the web on life in Britain.