Report: EU Seeks To Enact Search Engine Protections

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A draft of a legal document in Brussels reportedly shows a law that would regulate the operations of search engines in order to protect citizens and businesses from the whims of Google and others of its ilk. Specifically, the law would go after commerce practices seen as "harmful", and would require search engine providers to be more transparent about how their algorithms and processes work, helping businesses and online presences to make more informed decisions about how to boost their search rankings and how to react to their rankings changing.

To be specific, this new law would require search engine providers to explain how their ranking algorithms and search crawlers work to anybody who asks, or make the information available publicly. They would also have to let businesses know about any possible ways to boost their ranking, including paying. Naturally, this all points to some recourse for businesses and personalities whose rankings change or who get delisted, and the law covers this; search engine providers must make an effort to inform result holders on an entity by entity or case by case basis as to the reason behind their delisting or demotion, and if possible, how to get back into the search engines' good graces.

This legal draft comes not long after Google came under fire for allegedly unfair practices with listings in the Google Shopping service. According to EU lawmakers, Google was behaving in a manner that was unfair to local and small business owners, favoring results that either saw Google make more money or came from larger sources, even if the results in question were perceivably less relevant to the original query than what was promoted. EU antitrust chief Margarethe Vestager had met with Google executives on some occasions, but the diplomacy apparently failed to see the EU and the search giant reach any real, actionable agreement. This new law targets search engine providers of all spades, but it is no secret that Google was the main party being thought of during the drafting of this law. For the time being, it is but a draft, and there is no information as to when voting on it may take place.

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