[IRP] [governance] 'search neutrality' to go with net neutrality
Tue Dec 29 16:41:25 EET 2009
see below for a different perspective, one which I agree with for the most
"Search Neutrality" and Propaganda Deluxe"
"A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route
indicates how we get there." Jon Postel
On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:32 AM, Parminder <parminder at itforchange.net>wrote:
> See below an interesting article on how the company that seeks to 'organise
> the world's knowledge' really may be doing it. It is time we called for
> complete disclosure in public interest of search logics of Google and other
> search engine, which truly are now a (the?) principal source of information
> and knowledge globally. Also a point to ponder for those who think
> everything, including controlling excesses of market power, can be done
> bottom-up and may not need policy regimes.
> Search, but You May Not Find
> By ADAM RAFF
> Published: December 27, 2009
> AS we become increasingly dependent on the Internet, we need to be
> increasingly concerned about how it is regulated. The Federal Communications
> Commission has proposed ?network neutrality? rules, which would prohibit
> Internet service providers from discriminating against or charging premiums
> for certain services or applications on the Web. The commission is correct
> that ensuring equal access to the infrastructure of the Internet is vital,
> but it errs in directing its regulations only at service providers like AT&T
> and Comcast.
> Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft?s new Bing have
> become the Internet?s gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in
> directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of
> its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look
> beyond network neutrality and include ?search neutrality?: the principle
> that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their
> results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance.
> The need for search neutrality is particularly pressing because so much
> market power lies in the hands of one company: Google. With 71 percent of
> the United States search market (and 90 percent in Britain), Google?s
> dominance of both search and search advertising gives it overwhelming
> control. Google?s revenues exceeded $21 billion last year, but this pales
> next to the hundreds of billions of dollars of other companies? revenues
> that Google controls indirectly through its search results and sponsored
> One way that Google exploits this control is by imposing covert ?penalties?
> that can strike legitimate and useful Web sites, removing them entirely from
> its search results or placing them so far down the rankings that they will
> in all likelihood never be found. For three years, my company?s vertical
> search and price-comparison site, Foundem, was effectively ?disappeared?
> from the Internet in this way.
> Another way that Google exploits its control is through preferential
> placement. With the introduction in 2007 of what it calls ?universal
> search,? Google began promoting its own services at or near the top of its
> search results, bypassing the algorithms it uses to rank the services of
> others. Google now favors its own price-comparison results for product
> queries, its own map results for geographic queries, its own news results
> for topical queries, and its own YouTube results for video queries. And
> Google?s stated plans for universal search make it clear that this is only
> the beginning.
> Because of its domination of the global search market and ability to
> penalize competitors while placing its own services at the top of its search
> results, Google has a virtually unassailable competitive advantage. And
> Google can deploy this advantage well beyond the confines of search to any
> service it chooses. Wherever it does so, incumbents are toppled, new
> entrants are suppressed and innovation is imperiled.
> Google?s treatment of Foundem stifled our growth and constrained the
> development of our innovative search technology. The preferential placement
> of Google Maps helped it unseat MapQuest from its position as America?s
> leading online mapping service virtually overnight. The share price of
> TomTom, a maker of navigation systems, has fallen by some 40 percent in the
> weeks since the announcement of Google?s free turn-by-turn satellite
> navigation service. And RightMove, Britain?s leading real-estate portal,
> lost 10 percent of its market value this month on the mere rumor that Google
> planned a real-estate search service here.
> Without search neutrality rules to constrain Google?s competitive
> advantage, we may be heading toward a bleakly uniform world of Google
> Everything ? Google Travel, Google Finance, Google Insurance, Google Real
> Estate, Google Telecoms and, of course, Google Books.
> Some will argue that Google is itself so innovative that we needn?t worry.
> But the company isn?t as innovative as it is regularly given credit for.
> Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Groups, Google Docs, Google Analytics,
> Android and many other Google products are all based on technology that
> Google has acquired rather than invented.
> Even AdWords and AdSense, the phenomenally efficient economic engines
> behind Google?s meteoric success, are essentially borrowed inventions:
> Google acquired AdSense by purchasing Applied Semantics in 2003; and
> AdWords, though developed by Google, is used under license from its
> inventors, Overture.
> Google was quick to recognize the threat to openness and innovation posed
> by the market power of Internet service providers, and has long been a
> leading proponent of net neutrality. But it now faces a difficult choice.
> Will it embrace search neutrality as the logical extension to net neutrality
> that truly protects equal access to the Internet? Or will it try to argue
> that discriminatory market power is somehow dangerous in the hands of a
> cable or telecommunications company but harmless in the hands of an
> overwhelmingly dominant search engine?
> The F.C.C. is now inviting public comment on its proposed network
> neutrality rules, so there is still time to persuade the commission to
> expand the scope of the regulations. In particular, it should ensure that
> the principles of transparency and nondiscrimination apply to search engines
> as well as to service providers. The alternative is an Internet in which
> innovation can be squashed at will by an all-powerful search engine.
> *Adam Raff is a co-founder of Foundem, an Internet technology firm.*
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