Right To Be Forgotten Should Be About Correcting Harm And Reputation Management, Not Restricting Speech
In our digital age / third-wave society, the concept of privacy has changed.
Many may even say that it has been diluted or diminished to the point where there is almost no expectation of privacy.
Younger generations routinely share information in ways that would make adults faint.
Today, people build social media and digital histories that showcase every aspect of their lives, warts and all.
But does this mean the importance of one’s reputation has weakened?
Not at all.
Nor does it mean that people should have less responsibility about what information they share online about themselves or others.
If anything, the spread of online information has increased the importance of monitoring and managing one’s reputation online. Eliminating negative, and potentially damaging information (to your personal and professional life), has become a mini-industry. It impacts local businesses, large corporations, brands, and individuals.
When it comes to personal and professional information, I have been, and remain, a huge advocate of establishing a “right to be forgotten” online. In my view, it is a principle that is, at its core, fundamentally American (though I concede that my definition of “American” may differ from others).
When I read the Zero Hedge story about New York state Assemblyman David I. Weprin‘s bill to establish a “right to be forgotten” online, (see New York Assemblyman Unveils Bill To Suppress Non-Government-Approved Free Speech) I was interested to learn more about it.
The Zero Hedge headline raised some alarm bells for me, because while I am a staunch advocate of a digital code of ethics and reputation management, I also value free speech. Under no circumstances should “right to be forgotten” legislation impact free speech.
In reviewing the article and Weprin’s bill, the problem I have with the legislation is that it goes beyond what is necessary to establish protections for people online by requiring “people” to remove ‘inaccurate,’ ‘irrelevant,’ ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive’ statements about others that are posted online.
Normally, “right to be forgotten” legislation or regulations place the responsibility of removal exclusively on search engines, such as Google. The European standard, for example, does this and by all accounts works rather well.
In many ways, placing the burden on a search engine makes more sense and is more manageable. While anyone can post information on a website, it is a search engine that indexes the data and makes it available to a mass audience. Hence, the search engine can use its algorithm and other technology to block indexing of specific content. This has the affect of removing it from public view, without requiring the content to disappear forever.
Weprin’s legislation does things that are extreme and nonsensical. For example, how can you really define something as irrelevant? Instead of focusing on personal and professional harm (vs the general benefit of society’s right to know), deciding if something is “no longer material to current public debate or discourse,” is a dangerous and highly subjective standard.
Even the phrase “legal matters relating to violence,” is incredibly broad, and could prevent people who are either the victims of violence or the victims of false accustations the ability to have such information removed.
Free speech advocates are absolutely correct to protest Assemblyman Weprin’s legislation.
While I do agree with Tyler Durden that there is no “right to be forgotten” in the abstract, I disagree that such a law is unnecessary. Accusations, court filings, inaccurate and false information online can cause irreparable harm to one’s personal and professional relationships, which coincides with a great many freedoms we value in this country.
The goal of a legitimate and effective “right to be forgotten” law is not to censor speech, or ensure total anonymity from the world. But rather to provide some measure of balance and recourse to individuals who want to protect their reputation from unreasonable aspersions, and harm. To accomplish this – I do think the Europeans have done something very good that I want to see replicated – simply – in states across the country.
In a region more known for being the seat of the federal government and home to the Redskins, many companies are striving to be more innovative in developing technologies, solutions and best-practices that are environmentally sound, and conserve energy and resources.
The resulting emergence of companies increasingly focused on green IT and technology is starting to recast the region into a different mold – one of an incubator for businesses focused on renewable energy and more environmentally-sound technologies.
One company blazing the new trail is Power Loft. Nestled in Innovation Park in Prince William County, Virginia, Power Loft, a northern Virginia-based company that specializes in the development and ownership of high-density, high-security data centers, has built a facility that will not only allow for increased computing capacity, but uses 30% less electricity in the process.
In fact, Power Loft’s data center is expected to generate an annual environmental savings equivalent to 270,000 barrels of oil or enough electricity to power over 12,000 homes for one year.
“We wanted to do something different,” said James Coakley, Power Loft’s president and chief executive officer. “In every facility we’ve seen, the more you increased demand at the rack the more your non-IT and IT equipment compete for space, power and cooling.”
So, with that traditional data center challenge in mind, Coakley and his team set out to solve the scaling of IT systems and resources. Along the way they sought out best practices to reduce power demands from almost every industry imaginable, and worked to design a data center that is set to leave one of the best environmental footprints in the nation without sacrificing computing power.
In the end, Power Loft built a two-story complex that allows for high densities and incorporates numerous green technologies, from forced air cooling and water cooling, to state-of-the-art air ventilation systems and a green wall that scales the building to reduce the impact of outside temperatures. The design has garnered Power Loft numerous accolades, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Green Award.
Such an accomplishment sets a new standard in data center development certain to be studied and replicated throughout the country. But the fact that such an environmental trend-setter has come from the metro-DC area and not out in the west coast or in Europe has helped raised the profile of Washington, DC as an emerging leader in environmental technologies and practices.
“A lot of the early green movement is rooted in technology,” notes Art Stewart, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Stewart Strategies Group, a strategic consulting firm that helps companies hone their corporate and social responsibility policies.
“Now corporations include green technology as part of their overall strategy around corporate responsibility. Corporate responsibility is now the broad, connecting platform that ties green and other company initiatives together.”
Stewart sees the strong technology base in the metro-DC region as an excellent launching pad for more green technologies and environmental-friendly business practices.
“I do agree that in many instances technology is driving a new consciousness for green strategy, for sustainability strategy and for responsibility strategy,” Stewart said, pointing out that a few area technology companies are now developing software to help businesses better measure their carbon footprint and implement more sustainable office policies.
One of the regional leaders in developing green business practices for their corporate operations has been CSC. Headquartered in Falls Church, Va., CSC is a global leader in providing technology-enabled solutions and services, and was credited with implementing corporate-wide efforts to reduce energy use and recycle waste and technology during the NVTC TechCelebration banquet. CSC, like Power Loft, also won a Green Award and has been recognized in other journals for its efforts.
Turtle Wings is another company that is striving to shift the traditional paradigm of how companies do business. Based in Capitol Heights, MD, Turtle Wings is a woman-owned business that helps companies reuse and recycle their electronics hardware.
According to Elizabeth Wilmot, president of Turtle Wings, “Green technology encompasses a total life-cycle of all equipment.” She notes that a lot of companies talk about recycling computer equipment and hardware, but said it is important for businesses to be diligent in their recycling efforts to ensure that the materials turned over are going to go back “into circulation or recycle it here in the United States.”
In addition to the many companies that have focused on local markets, corporate-wide efforts or strategic planning, Catch the Wind, a high technology company headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, is carrying the Washington, DC mantle across the country and overseas.
A developer and manufacturer of laser based wind sensor systems that help guide wind turbines, Catch the Wind is focused on developing technology to serve the wind power generation industry – a market strategy that gives it quite a powerful reach throughout the world.
“There are more than 80,000 1 mega watt, or larger, turbines globally,” David Samuels, chief financial officer for Catch the Wind noted. Samuels added, “We are looking at retrofit right now on older turbines as well as installing new systems.”
Many other area companies also have received accolades for their development of green technologies, as noted by the wide range of finalists in NVTC’s recent Green Awards.
As businesses recover from the current recession, all indicators are that technology, and more specifically – green technologies – are going to help lead the way. With a growing tech surge in the metropolitan Washington, DC region, this should mean more area businesses will end up growing green.
We’ve known for some time that the number of people viewing online video is on the rise. With the expansion of broadband and high speed internet access, more people finally have the bandwidth to support video downloads. But where do we really stand?
In 2006, the number of Americans between the ages of 12 and 64 that viewed online video content every day was 9 percent. This year however, that number has grown to 14 percent and could end up being higher. Frequency of viewing online video also is on the rise. Last year, 44 percent of 12 to 64 year-olds watched video online at least once a week. This year – that number is up to 52 percent.
YouTube is driving much of the rise in online video consumption with 20 million or more viewers per month watching over 100 million video clips per day (Let’s just not forget there are numerous providers of video content, including Yahoo!). Though YouTube and others provide some news content, they traditionally reach audiences interested in viewing comedy and what some may call “fringe” or alternative content (like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which has reemerged as a cult favorite online), as well as those posting personalized content as opposed to news and special interest stories – a backbone of most television programming.
In point of fact, research demonstrates that the most popular video downloads on the Internet are news and special interest stories, with comedy, television programming, movie clips / previews, and weather the next most popular selections.
This means that the interests of Americans who view video online plays directly into the strengths of television stations, which have access to video content that they produce, as well as the ability to offer network and audience produced content that may not normally be aired in regular programming cycles.
Another facet to the trend of people viewing video online includes the growth of people who are online while they watch television. According to a study conducted by the Solutions Research Group (highlighted in a recent Time magazine article), 37 percent of the US population over the age of 12 use their computers while they watch television. This means that close to 100 million Americans are multitasking – shifting between watching television and online computer use. Other research shows that the longer people use the Internet (in numbers of years they have been online), the more their television viewing decreased. Though the time spent online per day remains less than total time watching television, such a trend represents viewers lost from television stations’ over the air service, but in fact they could be recaptured with on-demand and download Internet based services delivered to the computer.
One way to both maximize the trend towards online video viewership and combat declining market share and audience is to implement a desktop application or widget to deliver video and other programming directly to the computer desktop. Desktop applications and widgets are particularly effective in driving viewers to a station’s website, because they offer one click access to any portion of a website. Desktop applications reside on the computer desktop of a specific viewer giving a television station the ability to stream video and audio content directly to the desktop, as well as alert messages, RSS feeds, weather, and other forms of content. This has the effect of creating a communication bridge between the station and the viewer whenever the viewer is online.Once the communication bridge has been established, a desktop application or widget can then drive viewers back to a station’s website for additional breaking news, severe weather bulletins, school closings, community updates or contest and promotional information.
Given the growth of online video consumption by Americans, the growing trend of multitasking between television and online viewership, and the possible decline in television viewing in favor of Internet use, television stations have the opportunity to enhance their online presence by delivering interactive content through desktop applications that also help to funnel these viewers back to their websites.