Dr. Muhammad Rizwan Asghar, a Pakistani researcher, has developed a software that can erase you off the Internet faster than Google itself. Rizwan, along with his German colleagues, have named this software as “Oblivion”. His main motivation behind this software were the recent law changes in Europe where people now have a right to request Google to have any personal information or defamatory material removed from the Internet.
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Dr. Rizwan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Auckland in New Zealand. Apart from working as a Software Engineer at various international software Houses, Dr. Rizwan has had a more illustrious career as a top-notch researcher. He has studied and worked at some of the top institutions of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.During his Ph.D. programme, he also became a Visiting Fellow at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), California, USA. His research interests include Access Control, Applied Cryptography, Security, Privacy, Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems. And it appears that his news invention could be a huge crowd favourite.
Ever since the Europeans were given the right to demand take-down of reputation damaging material, Google has processed over one million applications. More applications are still pouring in. But the speed with which Google processes them is annoying desperate European citizens. This is where ‘Oblivion’ steps in.
Their software (still a prototype) can automatically locate and tag personal information on the web using text and image recognition, which can then be reported for removal. Once the tagged pages are sent to Google, the company can automatically confirm the details match with those in the article and provide an “ownership token” that is submitted to the takedown team.
Dr. Rizwan said a test had shown Oblivion could churn through 278 take-down requests per second – and this work-rate could be much higher if performed on a computer more powerful than a laptop. This particular feature is what actually speeds up the take-down process and gives Oblivion an edge over whatever technology Google is using.
This new technology, when in effect, could help a great many people. Considering that Google has already had 1 million requests from Europe, imagine what would happen if Google were to take on requests from the whole world. Moreover, this could help address the issue of cyber-bullying and online propaganda with more swiftness. Millions of people, not to mention organizations, are wrapped in the issue of false information online that contributes to defaming.
Currently, the team is trying to automate the software so that it can work with any manual inspection. Once completed, Dr. Rizwan and team hope to offer the technology to Google – that is if they haven’t developed one on their own.
You can watch the full news report here.