One of the worst things you can do to a regulatory agency is politicize it. Politicized agencies bend to the ever-changing winds of politics, which creates problems for industry and consumers alike. This straightforward lesson is one I have taught government agencies around the world. They seem to get it. Meanwhile, our very own FCC still has to make the small but crucial first step required to start the de-politicization process.
In May of last year, the European Union’s highest court ruled that Google has an obligation to remove selected information on certain people (at least certain Europeans) from its search engine results. Some are cheering this as a newfound or expanded “right to be forgotten,” and one group has even written to the US Federal Trade Commission asking that it act in line with the EU court. While this case brings about a rapid emotional response in most people – I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like to limit what others can dig up on them – it’s biggest benefit has been to reveal an unexplored new idea: that there is, in fact, a market for being forgotten.