If the European Union gets its way, not only will well-known sites like Google be subject to more transparency in their advertising, they may not even be considered search engines at all.
That’s a blow to the mostly United States-based firms and their plans to dominate the web, truly making it the worldwide web.
The EU is launching an inquiry into Google, Bing and other search engines, and how they list advertised results first when any user enters a search into their respective engines.
Although it may not be feasible to successfully regulate every single Internet search platform, Andrus Ansip, who’s heading up the inquiry, said that the EU commission will look at every possible solution.
Also, there had been some talk of a “Google tax,” but Ansip nixed that idea. The tax would have required search engines to pay for news blurbs that led to the full articles, as part of a proposed copyright reform law.
This news of possibly changing rules comes on top of a report earlier this month, in which the EU said sites like Google do not meet the agreed-upon definition of a search engine, because there are some sites they do not use. For instance, some sites have Right to be Forgotten requests, whose results Google and other engines ignore, such as posts like revenge porn or sites that request not to be searched in their robots.txt files.
Because of those stipulations in Google and other popular search engine results, those sites do not fit the EU’s Directive on Network and Information Security definition of an online search engine. That directive specifically states that a search engine should peruse and report all hits on a keyword, not just certain ones. Therefore, when sites are automatically ignored by Google, Bing and the other major players, by the EU definition anyway, they are not considered search engines.
The EU is also considering toughening rules against illegal content without holding the host sites legally responsible. Sites like YouTube, Amazon and eBay are expected, however, to remove any illegal content as soon as they become aware of it.
The commission is expected to announce its detailed plans on all of the above in June, so these top-notch web firms will have to wait a few months to find out the specifics of any of these new rules or regulations that may be adopted by the EU.