Has our right to privacy been forgotten?

It feels very much as though the most desirable result for Google would be a removal of the whole "right to be forgotten," and that the intelligence services would really like us to just trust them to get on with it, and what they mostly want is to rebuild any lost trust. The result is that we - and our privacy - are still being squeezed. It's easy to see why: both businesses and governments benefit (or at least believe that they benefit) from having as much of our data as possible. They also know it - and know how to play the game, as the orchestration of the various hearings demonstrates.

Snooper's delight

They know how to use each other for their own benefit too. As far back as 2007, Google's Peter Fleischer was using the now-defunct Data Retention Directive as a bargaining tool in Google's battle with the Article 29 Working party over the length that Google could hold search logs. In a round table event, David Bickford, former legal director of MI5 and MI6 made the converse and complimentary argument that if corporations like Google could gather, retain and analyse all this data, it would be perverse to place more restrictions and controls over the way that the intelligence services gather, retain and analyse data.

On the intelligence side, the squeeze is really on, driven in part by the current anxiety over the so-called Islamic State. Fresh from her success in driving through the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act - with the aid of the authoritarian wings of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats - Home Secretary Theresa May has now announced her plan to bring back the unlamented Communications Data Bill - better known as the Snoopers' Charter.

So we have Google trying to persuade people to surrender the so-called right to be forgotten, while the intelligence services seek ever more freedom to gather and hold data. Privacy is being squeezed from both directions. However, both sides are at least trying to make it look as though privacy is being considered. A few years ago, neither would have done so. That much is progress - but it is only a small step, and we need much more.