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I’m not that Mike Lyon:

My creepy namesake’s right to be forgotten

A woman that I went out with recently Googled my name.  No big deal, really, a lot of stuff out there that I am proud of, in fact, I encouraged it.    I hadn’t done it in a while, so I Googled myself, and there it was — my name and the words “arrested for filming sex acts.”

Well, as it turns out, I share my name with a real estate broker in Sacramento that was convicted of filming himself having sex with women without their knowledge.  He pled guilty to one count and settled another for $2.5 million out of court.

It’s not me.  Anyone who takes a moment to read one of the many, many, articles and YouTube reports on this matter can make the distinction.  But to hell with all that, Google adds so many negative keywords (scandal, sex, escorts, pervert, et al.) to my name that I’m afraid people will not get past the search terms and confuse me with the pervert.

Am I doomed?  Probably so.  Unless Google gives users the right to control their image then for the rest of my life I need to plan on explaining this to people like:  Friends, girlfriends, employers, the police, and, oh my God, my poor mother…!

All is not lost though, the European Court of Justice (Europe’s Supreme Court) earlier this month issued a landmark ruling that gives Euros the power to control the distribution of their personal information on internet search engines.

“The Right to Be Forgotten” is the name of the legal precedent that was issued regarding a Spanish lawyer’s right to have Google remove links to a 1998 government notice of an auction on his repossessed home. 

“In plain English, the court determined that the lawyer’s right to be forgotten — at least with respect to the long-ago and potentially embarrassing foreclosure notice — outweighed Google’s interest in linking to that information,” The Washington Post reported.

Rumor has it that the inventors of the search engine behemoth, Serg and Larry, the Google twins, literally melted down into a puddle of goo upon first getting word of this decision.  But they are not alone, other tech giants have also reacted negatively to the ruling.

“The danger is that search engines now are faced with an uncertain legal future which may require them to censor all kinds of things when someone thinks it is ‘irrelevant’,” said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder in an Associated Press interview.

It’s hard not to be skeptical of Wales’ concerns regarding censorship, after all, this is the guy who “allegedly” deleted his girlfriend’s negative information from Wikipedia, and accepted money from a Novell scientist to erase a libel judgment from his Wiki page, according to . . . .

Questioning the nobility of tech company executives, and their newly found enthusiasm for the Bill of Rights is probably a good thing, because, if you recall, most of them shared user data with NSA’s massive spying operation, PRISM.  Privacy, freedom of speech and expression weren’t held in as high esteem in that instance.

Nobility Indeed.  One thing that is not being questioned is the enormous cost that will be incurred by these companies if they are forced to remove everyone’s skeletons from their search engines and web services.  Regardless of the cost, this needs to be done -- to not do so failing to do so directly contradicts our nature.  

Generally speaking, when we atone for our mistakes we are forgiven.  Across the board, this holds true with the courts, and with our friends and acquaintances -- everyone, that is, but one notable exception.  Google never forgives because it never forgets.

While it’s far too early to predict if this will become law in the United States, it’s safe to say that most of us would benefit from a right to be forgotten.   How many of us would like to delete embarrassing details of a night out that led to duck-faced drunken pictures scattered across Facebook?  How about an ill-conceived rant on a blog?  From the most benign to the egregious, most of us have issues that should not follow us forever.

But back to me... I hope my Sacramento home movie enthusiast’s namesake takes his act to Europe, and takes advantage of this law.   If you’re out there, call me -- I’ll buy you a ticket.