German experts think search engines should be monitored

By EDRi · July 5, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

During the workshop “The Rising Power of Search-Engines on
the Internet: Impacts on Users, Media Policy, and Media Business” that took
place in Berlin on 26-27 June 2006, the experts expressed the opinion that
the search engines should be more regulated.

Marcel Machill, a lecturer in journalism at Germany’s Leipzig and Dortmund
universities stated that Google along with Yahoo and MSN were the main
source of information searches for 90% of the Germans, Google alone
accounting for 70%. He expressed serious concern related to the power of the
search engines that would be unconceivable in the classic media. Machill as
well as other experts considers Google should have the same responsibility
as other publishers not to allow access to illegal sites, such as those with
neo-Nazi content or x-rated ones and that mechanisms must be created to
protect children online and to address illegal content.

“Even if not targeted directly, browsing, surfing, or following suggestions
from search engines may lead to material containing unwanted, troublesome,
offensive, as well as surprising or amusing material. To be able to profit
from this opportunity, while still allowing for the protection of children
and for selective approaches to information gathering and communication, is
one of the most important tasks in further developing the internet.” said

Machill also added that last year, the German subsidiaries of search engine
operators agreed to voluntarily filter sites with x-rated content or those
that incite to violence out of their results lists and that the Government
had to know how the search companies operate and had to regulate them if

However, according to Norbert Schneider, director of the North Rhine
Westphalia, the voluntary obligation to filter sites will have no effect
considering it just a “weak regulation without any sanctions”.

Machill also suggested the foundation of a public corporation in Europe to
counterbalance the power of the US search engines.

Google’s position was expressed by public relations head Rachel Whetstone
who reaffirmed that the search engine was no newspaper or broadcasting
company and that they only applied an algorithm. She also stated that while
Google observed the local laws regarding the results displayed, they did not
wish to be the ones to decide on what people were supposed to see or not.

The Rising Power of Search-Engines on the Internet: Impacts on Users, Media
Policy, and Media Business

German Experts Criticize Google’s Power (28.06.2006),2144,2071471,00.html

German experts want search engines to be monitored (30.06.2006)