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(- as they say in Australia)

Last week ended with a bang in terms of search engine technology: on Friday, Google threatened to shut down its search engine Down Under if a planned media law there goes through. 

In recent days, Google has already begun removing messages from the accounts of some Australian users, calling it an "experiment."

Australia's Prime Minister Morrison will not be intimidated by the threats. And so it remains exciting to see whether his government will really risk shutting down the search engine, which has a market share of a good 94 percent (mobile 98 percent) in Australia.

What has happened so far? We have a summary and further links for you in this newsletter.

Other topics:
Have fun reading!
The team of the Open Search Foundation e.V.

PS: Desired topics? Comments? Just write to us at newsletter@opensearchfoundation.org. Quick answers are not guaranteed (his is currently (still) a purely voluntary team), but we look forward to hearing from you.

Trial of strength Down Under

In Australia, Google has been threatening to shut down its search engine since last week in response to a planned media law.

What is at stake?

The Australian government is planning a law to regulate the way major Internet companies use news content from local media outlets. At its core, Internet corporations such as Facebook and Google parent Alphabet are to negotiate exploitation fees for media content with publishers and broadcasters in the future. Until now, the internet giants have used their content on their platforms without paying for it. 

In response to the planned law, Google last week threatened to block its search engine in Australia. Mel Silva, vice president of Google Australia and New Zealand, said at a Senate hearing that it would not be possible to continue offering search in Australia if the law came into effect.

The law would be the first of its kind in the world. It is likely that Google fears a precedent that other countries could follow. On a "voluntary" basis, the Internet company has already reached agreements with some 450 media companies around the world, as well as – also last week –  with 300 French publications.

In such agreements, Google negotiates with publishers based on criteria set by the company itself. Disputes would most likely end up in court, where they could drag on for years and delay payment. In contrast, the Australian bill would provide a fixed framework and strengthen the media's side with a government-appointed arbitration panel to decide about the amount of the payment if no agreement is reached. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuses to be intimidated: "Australia sets the rule for things you can do in Australia." Threats, he said, will not be responded to.

For "testing purposes," Google is meanwhile no longer showing individual news sites in its search results.

It remains exciting. Will the Australian government go for a shutdown? 

Here is a selection of articles:

2nd International Symposium on Open Search Technology:

Three days, over 90 participants, 16 countries

Together with CERN in Geneva, the "cradle of the web "*, the Open Search Foundation brought the second edition of the international Open Search conference to the virtual stage in October 2020. For three days, experts and curious people from 16 countries examined the topic of Open Search from different perspectives.

Discussions were held across different disciplines on topics such as language barriers, key factors, tracking and user data, the importance of (open) Internet search for Europe's digital sovereignty, legally compliant design (law by design), technical challenges of open Internet search, legal search engines of the future, raising public awareness, "slow search", "human-centric search" and ... and ... and ....

Reading tip: Christian Gemin and Leon Pfeiffer have written a detailed summary for MMR - Zeitschrift für IT-Recht und Digitalisierung.
Link to the conference page with information about the program

By the way:
We remain optimistic and are planning another "real" conference for this year. The 3rd International Symposium on Open Search Technology will take place in October 2021 at CERN in Geneva and in parallel virtually. As a warm-up, there will be another web meeting in May beforehand. Dates will come in the next weeks. Stay tuned!

* CERN = European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva - where Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web in 1989.

On the Media

"Google Dominates Thanks to an Unrivaled View of the Web"

This is what the New York Times writes about the initiative of the Open Search Foundation.

The article examines the background to Google's market power, focusing in particular on indexing and crawling. In addition to experts from the USA and Europe, Open Search initiator and board member Dr. Stefan Voigt was also interviewed.

Link to the article (paywall or registration)
Wayback archive link (works without registration)

„Datenkrake oder Weltverbesserer?"

("Data octopus or do-gooder") – "How dangerous is Google really?" asked the infotainment magazine Galileo on German TV station ProSieben in December. Christine Plote, a representative of the Open Search Foundation, had her say in the report. The film was partly shot at the Leibniz Computing Center, where the supercomputer SuperMuc NG already uses free capacities for the calculation of the open search index.

It is not without a certain irony that the broadcast is available on Youtube (German language)
Working Group Tech
Inside Open Search Foundation: The Tech Section

Technology as the basic building block of open internet search

The DNA of the Open Search Foundation lies in the Tech Specialist Group, which has already been conducting experiments on distributed crawling and creating prototypes since May 2018.

As a vibrant open source community, experts research and experiment in cooperation with data centers and institutions across Europe - well networked via workshops, conferences, and symposia. The task: validate and further develop ideas for software and system components in the area of Open Search. In this way, new research approaches and, step by step, an architecture for the development of open, transparent Internet search are created.

Research areas and fields of work are for example crawling / indexing / parsing, frontend / interfaces, geocoding / visualization, security ...

More information on the website of the Open Search Foundation
Questions? Contact: tech@opensearchfoundation.org

In the next newsletter issues we will introduce the other groups in more detail.

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