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search engine, google, telecommunications, common carrier, federal communications commission, law and economics, regulation


Unaccountable power at any layer of online life can stifle innovation elsewhere. Dominant search engines rightly worry that carriers will use their control of the physical layer of internet infrastructure to pick winners among content and application providers. Though they advocate net neutrality, they have been much less quick to recognize the threat to openness and fair play their own practices may pose.

Just as dominant search engines fear an unfairly tiered online world, they should be required to provide access to their archives and indices in a nondiscriminatory manner. If dominant search engines want carriers to disclose their traffic management tactics, they should submit to regulation that bans stealth marketing and reliably verifies the absence of the practice. Finally, search engines' concern about the applications and content disadvantaged by carrier fast-tracking should lead them to provide annotation remedies to indexed sites whose marks have been unfairly occluded by the search process. Fair competition online demands common commercial ethics for both dominant search engines and dominant carriers.

Publication Citation

2008 University of Chicago Legal Forum 263 (2008).


Internet Law | Law and Economics