Cornell Law Review Volume 93 Issue 6

Federal Search Commission? Access, Fairness, and Accountability in the Law of Search

Should search engines be subject to the types of regulation now applied to personal data collectors, cable networks, or phone books? In this Article, we make the case for some regulation of the ability of search engines to manipulate and structure their results. We demonstrate that the First Amendment, properly understood, does not prohibit such regulation. Nor will such intervention inevitably lead to the disclosure of important trade secrets.

After setting forth normative foundations for evaluating search engine manipulation, we explain how neither market discipline nor technological advance is likely to stop it. Though savvy users and personalized search may constrain abusive companies to some extent, they have little chance of checking untoward behavior by the oligopolists who now dominate the search market. Arguing against the trend among courts to declare search results unregulable speech, this Article makes a case for an ongoing conversation on search engine regulation.

 

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