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Europe: A Union of Common Censorship

Patrick L Young is expert in global financial markets working in multiple disciplines, ranging from trading independently to running exchanges.

Published time: August 22, 2014 09:01
AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

For once Brussels has unified Europe, albeit by marrying Kafka with Orwell in a modern day Ministry of Truth.

Freedom is fundamental to prosperity. Those who cherish freedom most are often those who have not always enjoyed it. Thus the souls whose lives were blighted by Communist totalitarianism often rejoice at the simplest pleasures, even 25 years after the evils of the system were unraveled across Europe. Their joy in being able to travel has been hugely enhanced by that core Western value - freedom. Unfortunately, just as the European Union appears to have forgotten how to create prosperity, so, too, it seems to have gone somewhat patchy on the notion of freedom.
The latest developments on censorship expand upon the core carping of the politically correct - a group whose senses of humor, irony and objectivity were obviously removed when doctors meant to go for their tonsils during childhood. Pardon my ignorance, but what was so bad with the simple maxim “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will not affect me?” Back in the day it was fair to say “it’s a free country” and get on with life...but no more.

The latest political insanity comes from meddlesome Brussels bigots and their judicial cousins at the European Court of Justice, or the liberal loonies of Luxembourg as they deserve to be named. The phrase Orwellian is often overused but here it is justified after the ECJ upheld the utterly daft “right to be forgotten.” It was driven by the desire of a Spaniard to have his name expunged from the records. This man, Mario Costeja from Gailicia, claims to have been against totalitarian regimes from a childhood spent under the Franco era dictatorship. He was deeply affronted because apparently he sold his house before the taxman endeavored to repossess it. Readers will doubtless ponder the deep irony that Mr Mario Costeja has now become a footnote in history for having a squabble with the Spanish tax office, precisely because he had the record eradicated from the internet… However the search “Mario Costeja right to be forgotten” returned a mere 12,800 results on a well-known search engine last evening, which suggests Mr Costeja has rather opened a can of worms for himself. At the same time, it is intriguing to ponder just what on earth the EU, which has been discussing this daft oxymoron of the “right to be forgotten” for some time, was thinking.

As of now the process is simple - you file some forms and the good folks of Google/Bing/whoever are forced to remove you from their search results, even if the reason is somebody just doesn’t like what was said about them. Thus instead of protecting the public from incorrect information being distributed, rather the net effect is that all manner of pillocks, plutocrats and possibly pedophiles can fill in forms to have their names removed from anything that just doesn’t tickle their fancy. This has, rather amusingly, resulted in usually devoted Brussels apparatchik media (such as the BBC, itself frequently funded by Brussels’ grants) being quick to complain about the restriction on their content being distributed! By papering over the data on search engines, the presumption is nobody will see the offending material residing on ‘orphaned web pages’. Unsurprisingly, feeling it is important for content publishers to appreciate why some pages are no longer so visible, Google is writing to sites every time they are forced to comply with a request.

With the usual deft touch of a ham-fisted despot, the EU is now endeavoring to preclude Google from writing such missives, as it draws attention to the act of censorship itself, creating a fuss about freedom curtailed in the process. Another “you couldn’t make it up” moment from the world’s leading multinational undemocratic, unelected dictatorship which has now progressed to bullying media outside the EU to try to apply their despotic speech globally. Thus they have surpassed even the Soviet era with their censorship! As ever failing to understand the digital world, this crackdown on free speech is probably unenforceable in the long-term. Meanwhile, the EU has again demonstrated that it’s overweeningly Stalinist, all while proclaiming adherence to democracy and freedom - neither of which virtues it practices despite its histrionic preaching.

A right to privacy is a noble goal. Nobody is entitled to the right to rewrite history. When it comes to truth, like economic growth, the European Union falls short.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.