Do Search Engines Promote Or Restrict Freedom Of… | tutor2u Law
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Do Search Engines Promote Or Restrict Freedom Of Expression?

When using Google, or any other search engine, do you expect the top search results to be the most informative and objective sources of information? They claim that their algorithms try to ensure that this is the case. However, by using artificial intelligence to determine who clicks on what page, how long they spend there and how many social media shares it has, companies like Google may (unwittingly?) be guilty of creating a bias in the information they promote. What is less obvious is that this may in fact infringe upon the right to freedom of expression.

Due to the way search engines operate, certain unpopular opinions may not be given the same reach that their more popular opponents enjoy. In many ways this is good, as it filters out irrelevant or unreliable sources of information. However, in some cases, this could be seen as restricting the rights to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression.

The ultimate consequence of this, given a long enough time-frame, is that the algorithms used by search engines to curate content for users no longer represent the views of the world, but rather they create the views of the world, by only showing particular search results. This is reportedly what is happening with search engines around the world, who want access to markets such as China’s, where the internet is closely monitored and censored by the state. For corporations to be responsible for what information is available to people in such a way is potentially dangerous, as commercial interests compete with interests of justice. Would Google, for example, filter out results about the events at Tiananmen Square in order to gain access to the 800 million internet users in China? Watch this space...

George Orwell once predicted that those who control the information hold the power. This is more true today than it ever was! You can read more in this report by the United Nations General Assembly.

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