Google is facing a lot of pressure from Germany where the Justice Minister asked the company to disclose the way it ranks search results. This is, of course, most likely not going to happen. Heiko Maas, the justice minister, has told the Financial Times that Google needs to become more transparent about the algorithm it uses to create search engine rankings.
The demand was criticized by Robert Kimmitt, former US ambassador in Germany, saying that countries such as Germany need to open their market for more innovative products and services, and that they should be more concerned about the calls for appropriation of intellectual property.
“In the end it relates to how transparent the algorithms are that Google uses to rank its search results. When a search engine has such an impact on economic development, this is an issue we have to address,” said Maas.
Of course, the algorithm that Maas talks so freely of will never see the light of day because that’s the essence of what Google is, much like, for instance, Coca Cola’s secret recipe if you will. Others may try to copy it, but they’ll never make the exact same product because the steps are all wrong and the ingredients aren’t the same.
This is why all search engines are different, although they deliver basically the same end results. Google has managed, much to its competitor’s dismay, to become more efficient and to provide more relevant results, after many years spent researching, trying out various combinations and coming up with an algorithm that may not fit the business purposes of various companies, but fits the need of the regular consumer.
“We should not be afraid of Google, but as a state we have certain responsibilities. We know that Google covers about 95% of the search engine market. That is an exceptional market share. And we know, because we all use the internet, that whoever isn’t at the top of the search results virtually doesn’t exist – if I may exaggerate ever so slightly. I therefore believe that Google’s power over consumers and market operators is extraordinary,” said Maas.
He added that due to its massive market share, Google is able to rank its search results in a manner apt to promote its own business interests, which is not acceptable.
Google is being used by about 90 percent of Internet users in Europe, which is obviously going to rough some feathers up, but ultimately, it’s the consumers’ choice to use Google over Bing, Yahoo, or other tools.
Google’s third tentative to settle the antitrust probe was thrown out recently by the European Commission after more complaints came in regarding the viability of the solutions offered by Google. Microsoft, for instance, said that the products coming from competitors weren't going to get much more traffic after the changes, which was, in the end, the purpose of it all.
Google will only be forced to reveal its code as a last result, the German minister said, although this is unlikely to happen even if the situation does reach that point.