Are Search Engine Restrictions Fair?

Google could face fines upwards of $5 billion if a resolution is made in the four-year anti-trust investigation in Europe, which is still ongoing.

As dominant as Google is in the European market – 90% of searches are through Google vs. 68% in the U.S. – the European Union (EU) will force the tech giant to no longer favour its own products/advertising, dealing the company a huge blow.

Although Google is not specifically mentioned in the EU vote that passed 458 to 173, as far as search engine operations go it is safe to say Google will be affected the most. No longer will search engines be able to weigh their ads, services and content more favourably against other search results.

But is this fair? Consider going on any site that aggregates information for example JustEat.ca. Upon loading the site, would it be odd or unfair for the site to advertise its own delivery services, new storefront or even their own brand of food?

Should Google not be allowed to promote its own service when users are in fact using one of their services at that time? If you walk into Mcdonald’s and ask them to suggest a tasty burger, would the owner tell you to head to Burger King or point at the menu? Now, granted an employee may say otherwise but Google’s individual employees are not interacting with the public.

Perhaps the reason it isn’t viewed this way is because so many web searchers in Europe turn to Google for a search and there needs to be an alternative to be competitive in order for Google to change practices on its own.  But good luck with that.

The Internet is not generally a place where the best product isn’t the most popular, therefore if Google could keep it’s negative press down, it wouldn’t run into the problems it is currently facing.

A brief history of Google’s fines:

2013 – $189,000 by German government for collecting wi-fi data
2013 – $1.2 million by Spanish government for breaching data privacy laws
2012 – $22 million for bypassing Apple’s security measures on Safari browser
2011 – $500 million for advertising Canadian pharmaceuticals to Americans

 

 

Sources: http://ca.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/03/the-10-biggest-fines-paid-by-tech-companies/google-22-5-million
http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/20/spain-fines-google-over-privacy-breaches/
http://www.zdnet.com/germany-fines-google-for-unprecedented-street-view-wi-fi-data-breach-7000014337/
http://www.businessinsider.com/european-parliament-voted-to-break-up-google-2014-11

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