Reasons to Regulate Google & Search


This article deals with the urgent need to regulate Google and proposes radical open source like transparency as a solution.

Do we need to regulate Google?

Yes, of course. We really have to regulate Google. The question is just how as it’s currently one of the most powerful corporations in the world while lawmakers are largely toothless.

Once the Google black box becomes transparent we can strengthen democracy and freedom of expression. Why?

Google is a dangerous global monopoly. Currently Google is in control of most of the global search market and thus the access to most of the information available (or not) on the planet.

At the same time Google supports oppressive dictatorships like the regime in China when needed or works with the US government on unmanned killer drones.

It’s Time to Regain the Control of our Data

There has been another article on PC World many years ago that deals with the unavoidable regulation of Google. It’s more aptly titled “Does Google Know Too Much About You?“. Over the years the question became a resounding yes!

In this post I want to summarize the reasons to regulate Google & search:

1. Google uses a black box algorithm. You can never know for sure how Google is deciding what sources will end up on top. Approx. 70% of Google users just click the top 3 search results.

The other results barely exist. Most people fail to attract search traffic without the assistance of an SEO company.

2. Google knows everything about you due to a multi-channel data collection infrastructure.

  • Google search
  • Chrome
  • Android
  • Analytics
  • Ads
  • Gmail
  • YouTube
  • tracking cookies

are just the most obvious data collectors out there. They can profile you like the NSA.

3. Google is not about the free market, it’s about a dominant market position. In search Google is a monopoly in most countries around the world. Many other Google products have also a monopolistic position.

Even in the US Yahoo, Bing etc. are just small players when it comes to organic search. Only in China and Russia there is serious competition left.

4. Google changes ranking criteria on a whim. Ranking factors sometimes are random and there rarely is a disclosure.

Sometimes Google even discontinues support for certain features it introduced to webmasters itself in the first place (like the nofollow attribute) without notifying them.

5. Google is a US based company but it manages and often denies access to information globally.

There is no real accountability to entities outside the US. So basically most countries in the world give away the access to their information to a foreign company.

6. Google is working with China. This is just the most obvious example of unethical behavior. They openly do not support the Chinese censorship yet work together with the regime on surveillance. It’s not just China though.

Google shies away from fighting against censorship requests due it’s for profit business set up. Even teenagers manage to force Google to remove content from its properties.

7. Google lacks any clear ethics. There are seemingly no ethical standards for search engines. Google itself does not adhere by any ethical standards whatsoever besides the anecdotal “Do no evil” slogan that has been completely abandoned in recent years.

This unofficial Google motto has been rejected by (then) Google CEO Eric Schmidt as a myth. Only webmasters have to adhere to the fuzzy standards devised for them by Google.

Why Google’s Power is a Problem

Google is a global super power. It controls the world’s information. It’s the ever present gatekeeper. We need democratic control of this behemoth.

It would be insane to give away the keys to the knowledge of humanity to a solely profit oriented multinational corporation like Google.

Disclaimer: While you might assume hat I’m a paranoid Google hater, I’m not. I wrote this on Google Docs originally.

I use several other widely known Google services. The reasons above are just common sense. No company should have the level of control Google has.

Exactly due to the fact that I use so many Google services along with Google search it is important to make Google

  • transparent
  • democratic
  • accountable.

I don’t want to wake one day up and realize that Google has become too powerful to make it adhere to a code of ethics. With power comes the abuse of it.