When is a search engine not a search engine? When it’s Google, says the EU

When is a search engine not a search engine? When it’s Google, says the EU

April 5, 2016 5:45 pm

The European Union’s Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive is a bit of laws, resulting from be adopted this spring, which lays out the primary set of EU-vast cyber safety guidelines.

The remaining textual content was agreed on in December 2015, setting out a variety of methods for tackling and stopping cyber assaults and disruptions. Its proposals have been met with a lukewarm reception from the industries it covers, which embrace the whole lot from digital applied sciences to social networks, monetary establishments and ecommerce websites.

Now, it looks like search engines may need the most important bone to select with the EU’s Directive – as a result of based on the laws, they aren’t search engines in any respect.

The NIS Directive has settled on a definitive definition for an ‘on-line search engine’, what it's and what it does. According to the Directive:

“‘Online search engine’ is a digital service that permits customers to carry out searches of in precept all web sites in a specific language, on the idea of a question on any topic within the type of a key phrase, phrase or different enter; and returns hyperlinks through which info associated to the requested content material might be discovered.”

I’ve bolded the important thing a part of that citation – “in precept all web sites”. Because Google, though it indexes the overwhelming majority of internet sites on the web, attracts a lot of strains about what it is going to embrace in search outcomes. It doesn’t index Tor web sites, and complies with ‘robots.txt’ requests from website house owners who don’t need Google to index their pages.

Google additionally complies with the EU’s personal Right to Be Forgotten ruling, which permits customers to request that outdated or irrelevant content material be faraway from Google’s listings. Other forms of net pages that Google de-indexes embrace copyright infringing content material, revenge porn and ‘mugshot extortion’ web sites.

An image of a computer delete key.Google de-lists a variety of internet sites from its search outcomes, together with these eliminated beneath the EU’s Right to Be Forgotten ruling. (Image by Ervins Strauhmanis by way of Flickr, some rights reserved)

So Google doesn’t, actually, index all web sites in precept. But does any search engine? So far, no – and that’s the most important irony of the EU’s new ‘search engine definition’; there isn't a such engine that really complies with it. Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo – all of those have insurance policies which imply that they don’t in precept index all web sites.

Does the brand new definition truly imply something for the search engine business? I extremely doubt it. The present gamers within the search engine market have spent years refining their strategies, and aren’t going to out of the blue change tack due to an already pretty unpopular EU directive.

At most I suppose the laws may have an effect on Google and cohort’s means to legally use the time period ‘search engine’ inside the EU to explain their enterprise, however any problem to such a properly-established time period is more likely to provoke an enormous backlash.

If, in fact, a search engine enters the world and decides that it needs to be the primary and solely search engine to index any and all web sites, better of luck to it. It will certainly be an fascinating enterprise. But it in all probability gained’t have something to do with the EU.


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