The "Right to Destroy Information" act
We heard a lot about “The Wayback Machine” recently. For the uninitiated, the wayback machine is a website that archives the internet; and not once or twice, but several times over, every so often. The Wayback Machine has around 6 copies of my homepage with the first copy being the half-built version of my very first. Another version still sports all the photographs I once had on my page but have since removed. I’m shocked, to say the least.
Just a few days ago I had written about how we find it extremely hard to hit the delete button. Now it turns out that even if I do hit the delete button on anything I put on the internet, its still useless. The undo button is still around and it can undo deletions that took place many many years ago. Why? This personal paranoia about losing information has reached epic proportions. We as a race so strongly fear the “loss of history” that we are taking repeated snapshots of the “world” every few days (months?). What purpose does it serve to store semi-complete homepages of individuals who are blissfully unaware that what they put up on the net may probably be around for eternity to see (atleast if the Wayback machine has its way). Its as if the saying “what’s done cannot be undone” has caught up with the internet; only not completely. We can undo deletions but apparently there is no way to undo creation.
Perhaps intellectual property rights should now be augmented with a new clause – the right to destroy information. This would mean that an individual or an organization should be allowed to destroy information that they created (unless they transferred the rights to someone else in which case the new owner would have the right to destroy the information). There would ofcourse be the problem of determining the rightful ownership of the content but then this problem also exists for the copyright act.
Is it really important that we preserve every aspect of the world we live in today? May it not be better to let certain information be destroyed so that it does not stifle the creativity of the generations to come? Does having lots of storage capacity justify us holding on to the past? We need to figure out.