Transcript of "Framing Search Engine Responsibilities"
Emily LaidlawEmily Laidlaw
PhD CandidatePhD Candidate
London School of EconomicsLondon School of Economics
Week ending 10/09/2010 Most Visited Sites UKWeek ending 10/09/2010 Most Visited Sites UK
Google UKGoogle UK
Windows Live MailWindows Live Mail
BBC HomepageBBC Homepage
MSN UKMSN UK
BBC NewsBBC News
Yahoo!UK & IrelandYahoo!UK & Ireland
UK Stats (Hitwise Oct 2010)UK Stats (Hitwise Oct 2010)
US Stats (Nielson JanuaryUS Stats (Nielson January
Google UK 88.19%Google UK 88.19%
(78.73% based on(78.73% based on
Google.com 3.53%Google.com 3.53%
Bing 3.05% (3.53%)Bing 3.05% (3.53%)
Yahoo! UK 2.65%Yahoo! UK 2.65%
ASK UK 1.34%ASK UK 1.34%
Google 67.3%Google 67.3%
Yahoo! 14.4%Yahoo! 14.4%
Live/Bing 9.9%Live/Bing 9.9%
AOL 2.5%AOL 2.5%
Ask 1.7%Ask 1.7%
How does Google determine rankings?How does Google determine rankings?
How are people/businesses impacted byHow are people/businesses impacted by
What should its’ legal responsibilities be forWhat should its’ legal responsibilities be for
their rankings?their rankings?
Public interest?Public interest?
Human Rights?Human Rights?
““The reason that we think of the Internet not as aThe reason that we think of the Internet not as a
chaotic wasteland, but as a vibrant, accessiblechaotic wasteland, but as a vibrant, accessible
place, is that some very smart people haveplace, is that some very smart people have
done an exceedingly good job of organizing it.”done an exceedingly good job of organizing it.”
James Grimmelmann 2007James Grimmelmann 2007
Control information flowsControl information flows
Shape public opinionShape public opinion
Categorize consumptionCategorize consumption
High rankings when don’t want it; (right toHigh rankings when don’t want it; (right to
be forgotten)be forgotten)
Low rankings when want high (businessesLow rankings when want high (businesses
going under);going under);
Manipulation of Rankings:Manipulation of Rankings:
Search Engine Optimization;Search Engine Optimization;
Google BombingGoogle Bombing
Don’t fit into any traditional categories:– inDon’t fit into any traditional categories:– in
media terms, they aren’t quite newspapersmedia terms, they aren’t quite newspapers
or broadcasters.or broadcasters.
Sui Generis?Sui Generis?
Problems with imposing duties:Problems with imposing duties:
Upset market balance;Upset market balance;
Imposed innovation/diversityImposed innovation/diversity
In crafting where to go in regulatory termsIn crafting where to go in regulatory terms
the question is how search engines affectthe question is how search engines affect
the public interest and human rights.the public interest and human rights.
1.1. Algorithm DesignAlgorithm Design
Google BombingGoogle Bombing
Filtering mechanisms;Filtering mechanisms;
Third party trademarksThird party trademarks
Paid PlacementsPaid Placements
Complaints and RemovalComplaints and Removal
Removal at search engine behestRemoval at search engine behest
SearchKing v GoogleSearchKing v Google
Kinderstart v GoogleKinderstart v Google
Roberts v GoogleRoberts v Google
What are search engines’ human rights responsibilities?What are search engines’ human rights responsibilities?
Whose rights? Search Engine rights vs. Users rightsWhose rights? Search Engine rights vs. Users rights
Is article 10 even engaged?Is article 10 even engaged?
Who regulates the rights? Whose responsibility?Who regulates the rights? Whose responsibility?
What is the best regime going forward? Private or state orWhat is the best regime going forward? Private or state or
some combination thereof?some combination thereof?
Commercial Speech vs User SpeechCommercial Speech vs User Speech
SearchKingSearchKing vv GoogleGoogle
KinderstartKinderstart vv GoogleGoogle
RobertsRoberts vv Google, Yahoo! And MicrosoftGoogle, Yahoo! And Microsoft
LangdonLangdon v Googlev Google
Whose Right to Free Expression?Whose Right to Free Expression?
Is Article 10 engaged?Is Article 10 engaged?
10(1) Everyone has the right to10(1) Everyone has the right to
freedom of expression. Thisfreedom of expression. This
right shall include freedom toright shall include freedom to
hold opinions and to receivehold opinions and to receive
and impart information andand impart information and
ideas without interference byideas without interference by
public authority andpublic authority and
regardless of frontiers. Thisregardless of frontiers. This
article shall not preventarticle shall not prevent
States from requiring theStates from requiring the
licensing of broadcasting,licensing of broadcasting,
television or cinematelevision or cinema
Search engines makeSearch engines make
information moreinformation more
They are not contentThey are not content
They shape engagementThey shape engagement
in democracy andin democracy and
participation in the publicparticipation in the public
Other IssuesOther Issues
Article 6Article 6
Is there an entitlementIs there an entitlement
to a fair and publicto a fair and public
Are search rankings aAre search rankings a
determination of civildetermination of civil
Do complaintsDo complaints
concerning searchconcerning search
rankings qualify as arankings qualify as a
Framework DirectiveFramework Directive
article 1(3)a “Internetarticle 1(3)a “Internet
Freedom Provision”Freedom Provision”
Does this cover searchDoes this cover search
Is there a right to a fairIs there a right to a fair
procedure inprocedure in
determinations aboutdeterminations about
information access orinformation access or
To delete information from search results:To delete information from search results:
complain to website owner, contact Google recomplain to website owner, contact Google re
To complain about a low ranking:To complain about a low ranking:
To search engine provider (no complaints procedureTo search engine provider (no complaints procedure
akin to a hearing);akin to a hearing);
Global Network Initiative? No complaints procedureGlobal Network Initiative? No complaints procedure
as of yet.as of yet.
Lawsuit (long and expensive).Lawsuit (long and expensive).
Do nothing.Do nothing.
1.1. Recognition of the public function of search engines and ourRecognition of the public function of search engines and our
dependence on them. Values:dependence on them. Values:
Consistency in decision making;Consistency in decision making;
A degree of transparency;A degree of transparency;
Respect for User Dignity;Respect for User Dignity;
2. Recognize it as a human rights issue.2. Recognize it as a human rights issue.
How to operationalize these values? A Right to be Heard akaHow to operationalize these values? A Right to be Heard aka
complaints mechanism.complaints mechanism.
Internal codes fail to set standards;Internal codes fail to set standards;
CSR codes are of more discursive and moral force;CSR codes are of more discursive and moral force;
Mixed-regulatory approach optimal.Mixed-regulatory approach optimal.
Emily Laidlaw, PhDEmily Laidlaw, PhD
Candidate, London School ofCandidate, London School of
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