Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are so fundamental to it that human freedom cannot exist in the absence of either. Naturally, when a dictator or despotic regime wants to oppress their people, these are among the first freedoms to disappear. No one — not even Al Gore — could have foreseen the enormous benefit to those freedoms that would be brought by the Internet. Now, the despots’ infringements on it are growing stronger.
Two actions last week by very different groups — the Federal Communications Commission in Washington and the European Court of Justice in Brussels — are having an enormous effect on Internet freedom. Naturally, one is being ignored by the American press and the other is being given a wrong-headed interpretation.
Last week’s decision by the European Court of Justice ruled that people have a “right” to be forgotten, which means that search engines provided by Google, Microsoft, and other global firms must remove the links to material to which people object. The ruling was a less-than-one-day story here. It’s generally ignored despite its impact on our First Amendment rights.