Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, vowed against Google and other internet companies regarding their secret algorithm of search engines.
Independent: Angela Merkel says internet search engines are 'distorting perception' and algorithms should be revealed
She said that internet users should be notified how they are exposed to numerous information. Unless algorithms of search engines are disclosed, displayed list of the results can cause distortion of our perception, according to her.
At a glance, her concern is hardly understandable. How each search engine is working is a top secret of the internet companies. Many companies are eager to study this algorithm to make their websites optimized for the search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the hot topics for engineers. Thus, Merkel’s request is overwhelming the current situation of the internet industry.
Furthermore, if the algorithm is published, who can understand the whole figure of it? Every non-specialists and even most professionals will not able to interpret the meaning and process of search engine properly. It is mere a fantasy that revealing the algorithm will let us clearly understand the shape of the internet.
As not surprisingly, CEOs of Google, Facebook, and other companies ignored Merkel’s request.
On the other hand, we should be aware of some factors of Merkel’s ridiculous statement.
In general, members of the EU tends to take a conservative attitude compared to the US people. Especially regarding the information technology, European courts often make a decision which looks outdated. In contrast, traditional human customs are respected in the European countries. Recently, the EU court admitted the right to be forgotten on the internet of a man, to demand Google to eliminate the mentions about the man from the results of the internet search.
My past entry: Right to be forgotten
In addition, there is a conflict between the US and Europe. Modern information technology and the era of the internet are mostly originated from American culture. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are all American companies. While partially accepting their innovation, European people are concerned about their influence as a threat to their traditional culture. There are some examples that European court made a judge against US companies.
My past entry: One connecter law for mobile phones in EU
My past entry: Anti-Amazon law rise in France
I think Merkel made the request just as a joke. At least, she did not believe Google and Facebook would adhere to her request. Nonetheless, I feel a deep chasm between the US and Europa behind her statement.