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Could an Erasable Internet Kill Google? 210

zacharye writes "As Google's share price soars beyond $1,100, it seems like nothing can stop the Internet juggernaut as its land grab strategies continue to win over the eyes of its users and the wallets of its advertising clients. But an analysis published over this past weekend raises an interesting question surrounding a new business model that could someday lead to Google's downfall. Do we want an erasable Internet?"
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Could an Erasable Internet Kill Google?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:14AM (#45785711)

    Because the odds of me getting super powers and destroying Google are the same as companies choosing not to store data. They will either openly admit to it like Facebook and Google, or they'll just lie and do it anyway.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:14AM (#45785713)

    See subject.

    Expanding though. Erasable internet is a very very small segment of internet data traffic. The whole point of something being erasable is that is only to be seen by one particular recipient. Given we are here on Slashdot, while logged into facebook, reading our email demonstrates pretty easily that ephemeral internet activities only make a tiny percentage of the total data.

    We are still going to shop, browse, email, and post. Erasable internet is irrelevant to this.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      I thought most data was streamed encrypted video by now. But anyway, IRC is erasable, and I don't see IRC killing Google.
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:16AM (#45785723)

    With absolutely nothing pushing the pendulum in the direction of increased privacy, I'm for an erasable Internet, just because nothing else is there to push in that direction. Governments love the info. Companies love it. People don't have the power or voice to state anything. So, it is obvious when someone comes along that sort of guarantees [1] a picture will disappear, people will flock to that service en masse since they are so tired of a large, WORM database. Post a pic on FB, it is there forever. Post it on a website, reputable search engines will slurp it up. Use robots.txt and a hidden URL, it gets slurped up anyway unless there is some type of active authentication.

    A company that makes a peer to peer protocol to send encrypted messages where the key comes from multiple clients (and each client will not send the piece after the expiration date) is going to make money. People do want privacy, but it so incredibly hard to get that. If I wanted to send a photo to someone, and physically travelling is out of the picture, I'd have to get with them, set up gpg, then send it via that. Or, copy it onto offline media and snail mail it. Some firm that uses decent cryptography will make a mint just assuring people that a conversation has a high chance of staying stays private and vanishing after it was done.

    [1]: How long the pic really remains on the company's server is a question, but to people, it is off the record.

    • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:41AM (#45785851)

      There have been previous discussions about a "right to be forgotten []." It is hard to say what sort of traction it will ever get.

      I'm sure it will become a popular idea with recent college grads that enjoyed partying with friends that had camera phones, as well as hooligans. But it already can be pretty difficult to track down some things, especially since the search engines started limiting how many pages they will retrieve for a search (at least for the general public). Even if you can remove a document from one place, it can often be found in another. How do you get them all? It would take a fair amount of work.

      Against the "right to be forgotten" there is also the continuing erosion of useful information from various sites. There are some things that are disappearing from the internet even if you can find documents that mention them. Servers go away, files are lost, purges occur because "nobody would ever want that, it's old!" There are a lot of factors involved in this subject.

      • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

        Personally, as I said before I consider it a workaround not a solution.

      • by richlv ( 778496 )

        I'm sure it will become a popular idea with recent college grads that enjoyed partying with friends that had camera phones, as well as hooligans.

        ...and then companies will start creating their own collections of publicly available photos.
        a better outcome would be accepting parties as a good thing :)

        • by bonehead ( 6382 )

          a better outcome would be accepting parties as a good thing :)

          Never happen.

          We are currently raising a generation of kids who are going to be in for a rude awakening one day, and have to learn the hard way that documenting every aspect of your life for the world to see can backfire in a multitude of ways.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      I'm for an erasable Internet, just because nothing else is there to push in that direction.

      The problem is that an erasable Internet can only ever work with locked down hardware, incompetent users or a government censored Internet. And even with locked down hardware stuff like Snapchat would quickly lose it's point once Google Glass becomes more popular and you can just snap photos of your phone with your Glass. If anything, I see the future heading in the complete opposite direction. Record everything, all the time. A $100 3TB drive will already record a year or two of non-stop video in 360p@30.

      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        It can possibly work on a P2P basis. About a year ago on /., a cryptographer made a decent way to have parts [1] of a key for encrypted data be stored on a number of machines, and accessible only until the time expired. If a few machines still offered the key, it was still no dice -- it would take a majority of the machines to be compromised to get the expired key back and recovered.

        However, once assembled and the document decrypted, the user can do with it what they feel like. In reality, software on th

        • Ever use VNC or something like TeamViewer or GoToMyPC? Ever have a virus that copied your keystrokes or screenshots and sent them off to some server somewhere? Ever see a picture on the net where someone had something on their screen that was embarrassing? How exactly do you plan on ensuring the decrypted message doesn't get copied? A system having it's own viewer does nothing to help the system. The only thing it helps with is fooling people into believing their messages will be erased.

    • A company that makes a peer to peer protocol to send encrypted messages where the key comes from multiple clients (and each client will not send the piece after the expiration date) is going to make money.

      This has nothing at all do to with an erasable internet. You've described a system where someone has a time limit to view information, and if they fail to view it then it's destroyed. Anything that can be seen or heard can also be copied, so once it's decrypted and visible it no longer matters that there's a time limit.

      Some firm that uses decent cryptography will make a mint just assuring people that a conversation has a high chance of staying stays private and vanishing after it was done.

      This is not possible. You do not have control over the recipient's system so there is no way to ensure it's actually erased. It doesn't matter how much encryption or protection you use on a m

  • Definitely Not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:16AM (#45785725)

    Honestly, I think the impact on society of governments and organizations to rewrite history or remove history from the internet is a much more frightening concept than people being able to google your name and find out you were a twerp in your younger years.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:18AM (#45785743)

    I don't think you can ask that question at all without first discussing if an "erasable internet" is even possible.

    You know how data likes to be free? Well, it turns out it really enjoys being stored also.

    • It's the free/stored dual nature of data; which can be easily proven by passing data through a very narrow slit.

    • Both questions are useful. The question of whether an erasable internet is desirable is a separate one. Only a complete fucking idiot, asshole, or evil fuck would think so, however. Victors already write the history books, you want them to erase history as well?

      There are two positive effects which come from the internet never forgetting. One, we will learn (eventually) that things are never forgotten, and learn to act accordingly. Two, we will learn (also eventually) that we are more the same than different

    • by bonehead ( 6382 )

      I don't think you can ask that question at all without first discussing if an "erasable internet" is even possible.

      Snapchat proves that it's not only possible, but that it's also a rather popular idea.

  • The article doesn't mention any downfall of Google. The whole idea is a false dichotomy. Why can't both types of content exists. Oh, wait, they already do.

    Just because something is erasable doesn't mean it has to be erased. Most useful content wants to be found. Erasing that content would be stupid.
    Google's job is to help people find that content. There is a lot of competition to be found by google. I don't see the ABILITY to erase content an issue for Google.

    Just because there are types of content like s

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:02AM (#45786157) Journal
      Incidentally, Snapchat is actually a terrible example of 'eraseable internet' (though it sure doesn't go out of its way to tell you that...)

      They recently rolled out [] a fun new feature:

      "If you're a Snapchat aficionado, it's worth your while to check out some of the app's enhancements, for they include a brand-new "Replay" feature that now allows you to re-view one of your previously viewed Snapchats a second time. Perhaps you didn't have your Snapchat screenshotting app ready to go the first time (or, worse, your physical camera).

      Snapchat does build in a few caveats with the Replay feature. For starters, it doesn't appear as if you can close the app down and reopen it to view a previously viewed Snapchat. Any replay action you do has to be in one, singular instance — which eliminates our "load your screenshot app up" example from above. Additionally, you only get one Replay each day. Make it good.

      Interestingly enough, Snapchat doesn't notify the party that sent you the original Snapchat that you've elected to view it a second time. That might be useful information for a sender to know, for no particular reason whatsoever (wink). "

      Well, well. you mean to say that those magic disappearing 'snaps' don't actually magically disappear, it's just a couple of permission bits getting twiddled on the server and the client doing a (generally sloppy) job of deleting the local copy? Wow, you'll tell me that 'streaming a video' is actually the same as 'downloading it in ordered chunks and starting to watch the first ones while you wait for the rest' and not something magically different...

      If anything, to be able to enable this 'feature' after the fact, snapchat is clearly storing much, much, more than their service would theoretically require (the 'snap' would have to live server-side until delivery; but could be purged immediately thereafter. It isn't.) They may be tapping into a desire for ephemeral communication that somebody like Google doesn't; but it's a facade, a deliberate deception to encourage people to put more sensitive information into the same giant pool of ever cheaper storage with some dubious path to 'monetization'.
  • Nice idea but flawed...

    Until we outlaw the NSA-Military-Corporate-Industrial Government's ability to do their "Big Data Spying" in the name of "security" no application / service will elude the rooms where they scrape your data & mail before it hits your application.

    No mention of that in the article... but then you would not expect real reporting from a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch

  • by csumpi ( 2258986 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:29AM (#45785801)

    Can we have it?


    Wisdom goes that there are no stupid questions. This, however, is as close as you can get.
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:35AM (#45785825)

    If you dry up the source of information that has allowed Google to dominate Internet search then it would hurt them financially. The biggest fear for them would be tougher privacy laws. Right now the Class Action E-Mail/Wiretapping case [] doesn't look too good for them so there may be some changes in the future for gmail users. The NSA fiasco with Snowden means that more people are asking pointed questions and Google and all the others who make money off of your personal data have to do a little walk on the tightrope. On one side they've pushed legislators away from enacting tougher privacy laws but now they're information has been hacked by the NSA yet they condemn that. The only reason Google exists is that it can mine information efficiently. Throw a few lawsuits and some new legislation into that mix and it suddenly gets very cloudy for them. Take a look at Google Glass for example, [] right now the thought of millions of people with always on cameras can become quite disturbing especially since you don't know where those images are going or what they may be used for. Sure there's the augmented reality take on it, but how will society take to it in the long run?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:07AM (#45786175) Journal
      If I were Google, I'd worry less about privacy legislation (even in the curiously-disposed-to-regard-consumers-as-human EU, the privacy regulators are badly outgunned, and it's downhill from there) and more about the (surprisingly incompetent; but persistent) attempts by ISPs to take financial advantage of being the ultimate Man in the Middle...
      • I'm not sure I understand your point. Unless Google fully becomes it's own ISP there will always be somebody in the middle of your network access. The big problem for them is that they don't want to be branded as a communication company or a telco and in order to play the game with the various state and local governments. Licensed monopolies like AT&T and Verizon exist because they paid the fees (licenses) up front in order to deliver services to the customers. Google coming in and just wanting to s

        • My intended point is: while Google does a bunch of interesting things, what makes them money is advertising, the rest is side projects and strategic plays.

          They have gotten quite good at this; but getting the data they need is not automatic. They need to draw users in to their own properties, sell site admins on their analytics tools and adsense, and generally build both their surveillance/tracking capacity and their ad delivery capacity.

          Your ISP, by contrast, is the one who delivers your requests to th
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Privacy laws won't hurt Google much because everyone else will be in the same boat. They are an advertising company, there will still be a market for ads, it's just that targeting them will be harder. Harder for everyone.

      • Precisely, a economic "market" is a just a set of rules governing transactions. A "free market" is a market with no restrictions on who joins, other than they obey the rules. The tea party interpretation of "free market" as "a market free from regulation" is an oxymoron, nice enough people I'm sure, but probably best not to give them the keys to the treasury (again).
      • Given the fact that Google copied millions of books without any regard of the law, I'd say there's little reason to believe they will respect privacy when appropriate laws are put into place.

        • Google did not copy millions of books with little regard for the law. They were found by a court of law to have fully complied with the law. They copied millions of books *LEGALLY*. They followed copyright law. They may have gone right up to the edge of the law, but they respected it and did not cross it.

    • If a court was dumb enough to regard spam filtering and ad targeting as "wiretapping" then what it would mean is that Gmail users would suddenly get (a) flooded with spam (but there would be no better place to go to) and (b) become expected to pay for their accounts, which means handing over credit card details, which include things like your full name and billing address. Be careful what you wish for!

    • If you dry up the source of information that has allowed Google to dominate Internet search then it would hurt them financially.

      Yes but that is a wholly different matter than "making data erasable". It just means there is some data Google could not get to - directly...

  • by ddt ( 14627 ) <> on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:46AM (#45785865) Homepage

    If it's publicly viewable, it's archivable, which means someone will archive it, particularly if no one else is, so it's not erasable.

    • That might be interesting if: (a) somebody didn't reference the law every time they see a headline ending with a question mark (i.e. every couple of minutes) - I assume to look intelligent; and (b) if it were actually true. Did you know that any headline ending in a question mark can also be answered 'yes'? Or even, shock, 'maybe', or even more shocking 'possibly'?

  • by ( 311775 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:29AM (#45786031) Homepage Journal

    What we need is Google health care. This tonsillectomy sponsored by advil.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:26AM (#45786233) Journal
      Isn't Google's hardware strategy based around vast numbers of expendable, replaceable, generic systems operated as cheaply as possible?

      Google healthcare would boil down to "This node is uneconomic to repair, it has been sent for recycling and a failover node whose internet browsing habits most closely resemble those of the failed node has been dispatched to replace it. If any of your personal or professional relationships depended on the failed node, please try refreshing your browser."
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:06AM (#45786173) Homepage

    The House Ways and Means Committee is considering making advertising non-deductable as a business expense. [] That would take a bite out of Google.

    There are good arguments for a tax on advertising. Most Americans are "spent out"; they're spending almost everything they earn. The US personal savings rate is near an all-time low of 2%. In that situation, advertising can't create new demand. It's just a war between advertisers. So that's a good place to tax.

    • When it doesn't affect you, anything is a good place to tax.

      But forget the corps, how many small business jobs will be lost? Printers who print those ad-ridden placemats for diners, how about business cards? Will signmakers take a hit too? Not to mention those who put up billboards or shoot and act in TV or radio adverts. And I'm sure the USPS will fall even faster in the red and iirc, they are the nations largest nonmilitary employer.

      You might as well argue that Americans are spent out, it's just a war

      • I'd rather go the other way, get the government out of picking winners/losers here and institute across the board apt tax while wiping out income/capital gains/inheritance taxes (keeping ss and gas taxes because they correspond with payout).

        Depending on what your goals for a taxation system are, that's downright terrible. I agree with wiping out income tax, but not all capital gains tax. (I would eliminate capital gains tax on investments that produce new wealth - like profit made off buying new machines to

    • We need a limit on the number of people in a corporation.
      There's too much stuff inside google that would be much more valuable when open to the general market.

      The situation has an analogy in modular programming: imagine one module having 1,000,000 lines of code. Not good.

    • I think you've got your business practices backwards. Making advertising non-deductible would raise prices for consumers. Right now it is a cost of doing business and, in smaller cases*, a charitable gift (think of advertising on the back of little league t-shirts, or at your local [insert favorite] event. By being a cost of doing business it's tax deductible. Presuming that advertising doesn't drop (unlikely), that will just increase the cost of doing business.*

      *For S Corps, charitable contributions flow t

  • pointless question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:24AM (#45786227)

    There will never be an erasable internet.

  • will there be a functioning erasable internet. At the moment, 99% - probably more - of the population do not care what data is collected about them or even that data is collected about them. Those who do care, opt out in whatever way they can. Google = internet or IE = internet are dominant thought patterns and will continue to be. Edward who? .......
  • Could a chair fucking kill Google?
  • The answer: Yes, an erasable internet would kill the whole internet, of which Goolge is a part.

    As it stands, the human race is the accumulation of human experiences (from our inherent interest in exploration, all the way down to what we put in our food and why). This information is integrated into the fabric of our consciousness, and when looked at from a global perspective, shows that evolution is actually going on. It's a bio-logic sense-making intelligence that needs nothing other than the human cor
    • by bonehead ( 6382 )

      The answer: Yes, an erasable internet would kill the whole internet, of which Goolge is a part.

      You're assuming it's an either/or situation....

      There are lots of resources on the Internet that would make no sense to make "erasable".

      However, you could completely wipe both Facebook and Twitter out of existence, and neither the Internet as a whole, or the human race, would suffer for it.

      • Yes, we're saying the same thing. I'm just saying that if all past posts of all kinds were erased (in this way, I'm assuming that by "an erasable internet" they mean to include all of what I call the internet, which does not include any social media sites), the internet would be pointless. But, as you say, the social media sites could be wiped out (fingers crossed) and the internet's functionality would not be affected.
  • There is no such thing as DRM, and apps to save "unsaveable" Snapchat images are legion.

    This is a fool's quest, and whoever wrote this WSJ piece is woefully ignorant of their subject.

  • Google just puts you inside a bubble. That effectively erases the rest of the internet.

  • The Recording and movie industries have spent decades trying to make an erasable Internet. In their fruitless endeavor they have been joined by countless embarrassed companies, politicians and countries. There is no such thing as an erasable Internet, and there never will be. The Internet isn't a single entity, it is an ecosystem made up of billions of parts with vastly different political, religious and personal views. None of which takes into account the crazy people, the Internet is full of crazy people,

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:42PM (#45788199)

    I'm not interested in an erasable Internet. The beauty of the Internet is how it saves data, conversation, ideas across time and makes them accessible to people now and in the future. The Internet is a repository of knowledge. Sure you have to filter out garbage, but that has always been the case since we first evolved memories.

    The future of the internet is everything being safely and securely stored and accessible.

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