Oh how the saga continues, much like the Star Wars movies. There always seems to be something going on over there in Europe with Google. It seems that there is an unanswered question that is floating around that wonders about what concrete changes or concessions critics want from Google. Based on an interview in the Financial Times, this question comes from German justice minister Heiko Maas.
For Maas, it is necessary for Google to become more “transparent” by divulging the algorithm that they use to rank search results to the world . Sure, one German justice may want to know what the secret is behind the algorithm, but I think we all know what’s going to happen.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Google will probably turn down this proposal and go on with their lives.
There are several reasons why Google would have no intention of releasing their algorithm to the public, and several of them should be obvious. One reason is for strictly competitive. Naturally, Google wouldn’t want their key work to be released to the public, especially when every other search engine out there isn’t doing it either. Plus, if people had such intimate knowledge of the algorithm, they would be able to game the system, and that would pretty much break Google’s search engine. I could see things breaking down from there.
A challenge that seems to be continuing for Google’s European critics has been to show consumer harm as opposed to harm publishers’ vested interests from Google’s alleged abuses. So how can they prove that Google is “harming the consumer”? For the critics, this is going to be quite difficult if not impossible.
In the above mentioned interview between FT and Maas, there was a discussion of possibly trying to break up or “unbundle” Google into smaller companies. Mass had this to say:
“This is always the last resort. There are currently several endeavours in this regard at both the European and member state levels. Court proceedings are under way as well. So I would say that we have not yet reached the point where we need to start talking about unbundling. It would make more sense, including in the interests of competition and the European IT market, to achieve a reasonable consensus.“
Because European publishers have become more aggressive with their demands, Google could be compelled to go through an adversarial process instead of settling the case on terms acceptable to all sides.