Excerpt from a timely snapshot:
Google has cast attempts to regulate it as assaults on fundamental freedoms. Its search engineer Amit Singhal asked on the company’s blog this week “whether regulators should look into dictating how search engines like Google conduct their ranking” and discussed the unfolding debate over “government-regulated search”. Terms like “dictating” and “government-regulated” reflect a certain US provinciality, a deafness to measures of corporate responsibility other than libertarianism. Recently, Google has been wrong-footed by Germans’ reluctance to have street-level photographs of their houses and yards posted on Google’s maps. This week, Google said it was “astonished” when an Italian court ruled against its executives for not taking down quickly enough a video of an autistic child being harassed by teenagers. The US ambassador to Italy defended Google by noting that secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that “a free internet is an inalienable human right”. Such attitudes have the ring of 1990s web utopianism to them. They are in for a re-examination.