UK Politicians Think They Can Write Google's Search Algorithm Better Than Google
from the because-they-don't-know-what-they're-talking-about dept
Last week, we wrote about the UK Parliament debating a new IP bill in which they seem not just woefully uninformed, but poised to do stupid things, like throw file sharers in jail and blame internet companies for not pretending it’s still 1995. It appears that process has continued, and TorrentFreak has a further report concerning debate on the new Intellectual Property Bill that suggests the MPs are not only completely uninformed about the internet, but seem to think they know how to program Google’s algorithms better than Google.
The biggest problem, it seems, is that UK politicians continue to fall for the completely false claims by some that if you search for various artists or movies, the top results are infringing sites. That’s almost never true. What is true is that if someone specifically searches for artists and things like “free download” or other such terms, that some of the results may point to unauthorized sources, and the people doing those kinds of searches aren’t the folks looking to pay in the first place. They’re clearly looking for free downloads, and Google is giving them what they asked for. But, it appears multiple politicians in the UK don’t understand that, and think that Google is presenting unauthorized sources based just on searches on artists’ names.
“When you search for the name of your favorite band..[..]..you will be directed to illegal sites. Something must be done about that,” said Pete Wishart MP. Untrue of course, but it gets worse.
“[Another MP] mentioned an astonishing statistic…[..]..to the effect — I hope I have this right; he will correct me if I am wrong — that for the top 20 singles and albums for November 2013, 77% of first page search results for singles and 64% for albums directed the consumer to an illegal site. I have to say to the Minister that that surely cannot be allowed to continue,” said MP Iain Wright.
That statistic isn’t even close to true. It’s laughably false. But, armed with such bogus information, these MPs suddenly believe they know how to better write search algorithms, and seem prepared to start editing Google’s search results for the company. A new clause is being added to the bill called “online copyright infringements: technology companies.” It basically proposes that the government will now have a mandate to edit search results:
“The Secretary of State will, within three months of this Act coming into force, report to both Houses of Parliament on proposals that will have the purpose of ensuring technology companies hinder access via the internet to copyright infringing material.”
Right, because that’s worked so well in the past. Given how uncreative politicians are, the end result of this bill will almost certainly be increased censorship and blocking in the UK, while putting a ridiculous level of liability on internet companies for merely doing what their users ask them to do. Over the past few years, the UK keeps positioning London as a new startup hub, but with laws like this, the UK is basically making sure that it’s impossible to do any real internet innovation in the UK without facing massive liability.