Germany pressures Google to reveal its search algorithm
Asking Google to reveal its search algorithm is like asking Colonel Sanders to give up the secret recipe for his fried chicken, but that’s exactly what a German official is calling Google to do.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Germany’s justice minister Heiko Maas said Google needs to be more “transparent” with its top secret search algorithm.
Maas spoke of how foreign internet companies such as Google need to respect European law.
This includes data protection laws, which the search engine breached last year by giving data over for NSA surveillance in the widely publicised Edward Snowden case.
He went on to say Germany would support a single data protection standard in Europe and said they are hoping the EU dossier will wrap up sometime next year.
The main issue Maas was concerned about was Google taking advantage of its powerful position by tampering with search results.
“With a market share of 95 per cent, Google dominates the search engine world, and is able to rank its search results in a manner apt to promote its own business interests. And that is not acceptable. We must think about how to solve this problem.” Maas said.
He went on to say search results that don’t show up on the first page practically don’t exist, hence why so many businesses are engaging in search engine marketing.
As a last resort, Maas did say that the ‘unbundling’ of Google (breaking Google down into smaller businesses) is an option they would consider.
Of course, it’s hard enough to get Google to reveal the next Penguin update, let alone their search algorithm.
Google offers a free service to searchers and businesses alike, and it’s easy to forget it is a business of its own, so it is always going to do what is best for the company.
Therefore, handing out their algorithm to the competition (as well as spammers) is not something they would likely consider.
One of the main problems going on here is the power struggle between US digital companies such as Google and German publishers.
Earlier this year the German publishing group VG Media took Google to court for supposedly stealing its business.
The European Commission is currently undergoing a four year investigation into Google’s practices, and publishing groups are threatening to sue the commission if things don’t go their way, as reported by Reuters.
But Google’s focus has always been on the searcher, with their official mission statement being “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Here in Australia and New Zealand, Google is the dominant search engine by far, occupying 93 percent according to Statcounter, and businesses here are just as reliant on the company for online marketing as they are in Germany.