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Immortal on the internet?

chandigarh Updated: May 25, 2014 09:43 IST
Madhusheel Arora

Internet has had an eventful 40 years or so, since its origins as a simple effort to get two computers to send messages to each other. As an application of the science of waves and continued improvement over radio, it is now all-pervasive and powerful with applications far beyond originally perceived.

You are using it to sell or buy commercial products, to fill forms for government or private organisations and if you have a fast connection like 4G, you are using it to download/stream live matches.

So, getting increasingly high speeds on the internet and across multiple device-platforms has been the focus of research in this area so far.

However, change is in the offing. Europe’s highest court has recently ruled that the general public is entitled to in effect control the results that are shown on the internet, when their name is entered into search engines, especially Google as it has 90% of the market share there.

For instance, people have a right to erase information published about themselves previously that they think is irrelevant or does nor portray them in a good light after a specified time period.

At first glance, the ruling seems a simple effort to ensure that the privacy of an individual on the internet is protected.

However, dig deeper and this could be the first-of-its-kind judgment that could seriously hit the way the internet operates.

For instance, the fundamental premise of the internet is that it is a network of networks and NO ONE controls it or it is virtually impossible to control, due to the vast interconnections involved.

So, suppose you type Madhusheel in any of the search engines, say Google, it will list my name in one of the newspapers that published my name when in college.

If now I want the search engine to remove my name, will it remove that day’s newspaper from its records? Will it then not impact users who want their name to be seen, also published that particular day.

Of course, as technology evolves, it might even be possible to remove names wherever they occur in the paper. But, that seems besides the point, for now.

Implications for business
With censorship, other forms of control will also rear its head making it a tad difficult to conduct business.

A concept called NET NEUTRALITY is the rage in the Western World, especially in the US. Companies that provide internet to the end-consumer offer customised packages to you based on the sites you surf and the data you consume.

Just like Facebook can be blocked in offices, certain service providers are tending to block certain sites en masse on the grounds that they consume excessive space on their networks and offer other sites.

The idea being to ultimately move to a model where sites have to pay to be visible on the internet to certain categories of customers.

Internet will soon move the way of Cable TV. You can only log on to sites that you have paid for or are willing to pay.

In essence, the next two major issues confronting the technology are control over content and monestisation of the service.