Does the Internet Need a ‘Delete’ Button? [We Ask You]

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The Internet has grown from a mere concept to an integral part of the everyday lives of most people in developed countries. And in a relatively short space of time. If you’re on the Internet then you’re truly on the Internet, with your name, location, and a host of other data about you following you around the Web like a bad smell; a bad smell that companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft can track.

Most of us are worried about maintaining some level of privacy online, but it’s insanely hard to embrace the new opportunities the Internet presents while anonymously hiding away in a dark recess of the Web. It’s all good until things go pear-shaped, at which point there is really no option left open to you.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, Does The Internet Need A ‘Delete’ Button? This question is prompted by a discussion between Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and economist Nouriel Roubini at the New York University’s Stern business school, as reported by Fast Company.

Roubini grilled Schmidt about Google’s role in devolving privacy online, with some people suggesting that the search and advertising giant is one of the main offenders eating away at the idea of privacy. Schmidt defended his company, saying, “Let me be very clear that Google is not tracking you … it’s not doing all these things.” But then conceded the point that the Internet represents a challenge to the sense of fairness when it comes to an individual’s right to privacy.

He stated that “[the] lack of a delete button on the Internet is in fact a significant issue,” continuing to say, “there are times when erasure [of data] is the right thing … and there are times when it is inappropriate. How do we decide? We have to have that debate now.” A debate? Now? MakeUseOf delivers.

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We want to know whether you believe the Internet needs a ‘Delete‘ button, which obviously wouldn’t be a literal button but an accepted process by which an individual could wipe their online slate clean, removing all traces of themselves and their activities from databases.

Should companies be allowed to track you across the Web as they currently do? Is it our own fault for giving up so much of ourselves to the Web companies that use us as their business models? Do you worry about your privacy on the Internet or do you accept that it’s an outdated concept that those of us who spend our lives attached to Internet-connected devices have given up on?

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, and the respect of other readers. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Matt McGee

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