Aktuelle Nachrichten und Informationen von der Open Search Foundation
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We are busy, bustling, preoccupied, at work ...

... preparations are underway on all channels. Curious why we were (and are) so busy? We are not (yet) allowed to report on everything ... but all good things come in threes:

First: Under the leadership of Dr. Christian Geminn, the Open Search Foundation has drafted a position paper on the EU Commission's digital services package and - spoiler alert: we see potential hurdles for an open search infrastructure. …read on

Secondly: The abstracts have been submitted, the programme committee has sifted and decided, speakers have been invited, the #ossym21 agenda is taking shape. In short, preparations for the third Open Search Symposium in October are in full swing. How good that registration is now open. Participation is free of charge and the conference is online. So - let's go! …read on

Thirdly ... the #ethicsinsearch project has been launched. Funded by the Mercator Foundation, we are bringing ethics experts on board as part of the project. Common course: promoting a values-based internet search …read on

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

PS: Preferred topics? Comments? Just write to us at newsletter@opensearchfoundation.org.


Pitfalls for Open Search? Statement of the Open Search Foundation on the Digital Services Package of the EU Commission

At the end of 2020, the EU Commission presented the Digital Services Package. It includes a regulation on digital services, the Digital Services Act (DSA), a regulation on digital markets, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Data Governance Act (DGA), a regulation on data control.

The legislative package has two main objectives:

  • Creating a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected.
  • Creating a level playing field to promote innovation, growth and competitiveness, both in the European single market and globally

The Open Search Foundation, under the leadership of Dr Christian Geminn, has ploughed through several hundred pages of legal texts and drafted a position paper focusing on "Open Search" on the regulations. Among other things, the team identified potential weaknesses in the proposed regulations that could have unintended consequences for the establishment and operation of an Open Web Index in Europe. The opinion paper was sent to members of the European Parliament and the German Bundestag.

Here is an excerpt:

"The Open Search Foundation welcomes the Commission's efforts to regulate the areas affected by the three proposed regulations. However, we believe that parts of the proposed regulations in their current form have the potential to have an unintended impact on the establishment and operation of an Open Web Index in Europe. This in turn could hinder current efforts to promote digital sovereignty, a value identified by the European Union as an important asset and goal in the digital age. An Open Web Index would significantly promote digital sovereignty by providing an alternative to the established indexes and thus a basis for the development of a market of independent European search engines and many other digital services."

You can download the full position paper here.


Download Positionspapier (englisch, pdf)

#ossym2021 – 3. International Open Search Symposium

Register now!

From 11 - 13 October 2021, the third edition of the international open search conference will take place: Three days of #opensearch from different perspectives with experts from science and practice and many other active members of the #opensearch community.

From 11 - 13 October 2021, the third edition of the international open search conference will take place: Three days of #opensearch from different perspectives with experts from science and practice and many other active members of the #opensearch community.

Here is a sneak peek into the programme:

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger – Professor of Internet Governance at Oxford (UK), Co-Author of “Framers”, “Machtmaschinen” and “Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data”, member of Germany’s Digital Council
Astrid Mager – Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW); lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna
Werner Stengg – Digital expert in the cabinet of EU Commissioner and Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager; responsible for coordination of digital policy, Artificial Intelligence and data economy, Platform Economy, Disinformation
Carla Hustedt – Head of "Digitised Society" at Stiftung Mercator

Alternative search approaches on 12 October: What new innovations are there to Google & Co. and what drives their creators? 

  • Dr. Leif-Nissen Lundbæk (CEO and Co-Founder of Xayn) und Prof. Dr. Michael Huth (Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder of Xayn), Dean at Imperial College London),
  • Rémi Berson (Softwareingenieur at Brave Search, Expert for Privacy Technologies)
  • Sridhar Ramaswamy (CEO and Co-Founder Neeva, former Google executive in charge of Ads)

Internet Search & Ethics on 13 October: What does ethics have to do with internet search and democracy? And how can ethical decisions be anchored in data project?

  • Pernille Tranberg – Expert and advisor in data ethics and data democracy, co-founder of the European thinkdotank DataEthics.eu
  • Dr Mirko Tobias Schäfer – Associate Professor at Utrecht University, co-founder and project leader of the Utrecht Data School – and Nelly Clausen – Researcher at Utrecht University with focus on data ethics, project manager of DEDA German

The conference will take place online, hosted by CERN*. Participation is free of charge. Please register directly at CERN. Tip: If you don't have one yet, create a CERN Lightweight account there beforehand and let it guide you through the registration process.

The continuously updated programme is available on the conference website.

Register now free of charge

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

Projects #ethicsinsearch—Ethics for internet search must not be a nice-to-have

How do we anchor more ethics in internet search? This is the question addressed by the project #ethicsinsearch—Ethics for Internet Search, funded by Stiftung Mercator. 

"Currently, internet search comes with a huge imbalance of power and a high ethical price: values like transparency, privacy and fairness play almost no role in internet search," criticises Christine Plote, OSF founding member and co-leader of the #ethicsinsearch project. The topic of ethics is hotly debated in digitalisation, but hardly with a view to internet search, which we all use every day.

#ethicsinsearch aims to provide the ethical basis for an open European search index. To this end, the project team led by Christine Plote and Dr Anton Frank, together with a research community from universities and think tanks, not only wants to identify ethical pitfalls, but also develop concrete recommendations for action. 

The project will address questions such as: "What are ethical no go's for internet search?" "How can we make the development and operation of an open search index values-based, and how can the values be firmly anchored?" "Who decides what gets included and shared in the index? And who gets to decide, who decides?" 

An important task of the project is also to inform and engage people in conversation about ethical issues in internet search. The next opportunity for this is the International Open Search Symposium #ossym21. The topic of digital ethics is on the agenda on the morning of the 13th.  

E-Mai to ethicsinsearch@opensearchfoundation.org or on the Website of Open Search Foundation

The project #ethicsinsearch - Ethics of Internet Search is funded by Stiftung Mercator.


We found these two projects particularly inspiring in recent months:

„Now we have the chance to create a democratic digital age.“ – Transatlantic Dialogue with Shoshana Zuboff and Max Schrems

What kind of society do we want to live in? 
  • Legendary digital economist Shoshana Zuboff, bestselling author of "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" and known to many from the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma", and
  • lawyer and data protection activist Max Schrems, whose lawsuit before the ECJ brought down the Privacy Shield, among other things,
... discussed this at an online talk organised by Alexandra Geese (MEP for the Greens).

How well does Google know us? No magic powers are needed to create doppelgangers with data traces

It's no secret that Google likes to collect data. But in the end, does Google know us better than we know ourselves? What do our search queries reveal about us? Is it possible to recreate a person's life on the basis of online traces alone? And how susceptible are we to manipulation as a result?

The project "Made to Measure" answers these questions in an unnervingly realistic way. Using only the Google data of an anonymous data donor, the artist group Laokoon shows how, without magic and without AI, search queries become tangible information and a very personal profile.

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