Via Comments at Threadwatch, a blog post from Eric Goldman that does a superb job recapping the Regulating Search Symposia that took place a few weeks ago at Yale University. Some of the papers presented at the conference are also available.
From Goldman’s post, a passage of what he calls, meta observations:
* almost everyone on the various panels spoke against government regulation. This was clearly a stacked deck. There are plenty of people who would love to get their regulatory hands on search engines, but their views were not widely represented. The closest pro-regulation advocate was Barbara van Schewick, but her particular axe to grind (search engines self-promote their own subsidiary offerings too favorably) was comparatively tame.
* the words “click fraud” were not uttered once. The words “adware” and “spyware” were used extremely rarely.
* Google’s representatives repeatedly tried to position Google as “neutral” and “objective.” In my search engine bias paper (and my Deregulating Relevancy paper), I debunk any effort by Google to characterize itself as passive. Perhaps this may have been true at some point in Google’s history with respect to core search, but Google has become too multi-faceted and too involved in its databases for it to continue playing the passivity card.
On a related legal issues and search note, Joho the Blog, offers notes and a few thoughts from a November seminar at Oxford by, Alexander Macgillivray, Senior Product and Intellectual Property Counsel at Google. Along with these notes, Macgillivray’s presentation is discussed in a BBC News post.
From the BBC article:
“We totally believe we have the right to index absolutely everything on the internet, but we will respect any webmaster’s decision not to be included,” said the California-based legal counsel.