Germany Just Asked Google To Do The Impossible: Reveal Its Secret Search Algorithm

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey BrinGetty/Justin SullivanGoogle founders Larry Page (L) Sergey Brin talk with members of the media at Google Press Day 2006 May 10, 2006 in Mountain View, California

German justice minister Heiko Maas is calling on Google to become more transparent by disclosing exactly how it ranks search results.

This, of course, will simply never happen. The algorithm is the heart of Google, the source of all its wealth and power as the planet’s best index of knowledge. Google is just never going to give that up. CEO Larry Page will fight to the death

Nonetheless, in an interview with the Financial Times, Maas explains that Germany is unhappy with the search engine giant’s actions in Europe, and wants it to reveal the details of its search algorithm in the interests of consumer protection.

Google Search remains the most important part of Google’s business, with advertising on the platform forming the majority of its $US60 billion in annual revenue. But now, Germany’s government has escalated its antitrust case against the company by requesting that Google publishes how websites are ranked on Google Search.

Google has apparently pushed back against the request, claiming that publishing the search engine algorithm would mean revealing its business secrets and opening up the service to exploitation by spammers.

The European Union has been working for four years to try and break up Google’s dominance over web search in Europe. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Google handles over 90% of web searches in Europe, a larger percentage than its 68% share of the American search market. The EU has continually pushed Google to make concessions in the way it displays search results, the most notable of which is the “right to be forgotten” law that means private individuals in the EU can force Google to de-list web pages about them. Last week the EU rejected a proposed compromise from Google, meaning that the company could still face a $US6 billion fine.

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