Of all of the dangerous censorship occurring on the Internet today, Google’s censorship programs are the most powerful … and the most dangerous if misused. So far there is no evidence that Google intends to stop misusing it’s Censorship powers any time soon.
The New Censorship
How did Google become the Internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites?
Google, Inc., isn’t just the world’s biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world’s biggest censor.
The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.
When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment, victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed. Eventually, authorities will almost certainly have to step in, just as they did whencredit bureaus were regulated in 1970. The alternative would be to allow a large corporation to wield an especially destructive kind of power that should be exercised with great restraint and should belong only to the public: the power to shame or exclude.
If Google were just another mom-and-pop shop with a sign saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” that would be one thing. But as the golden gateway to all knowledge, Google has rapidly become an essential in people’s lives – nearly as essential as air or water. We don’t let public utilities make arbitrary and secretive decisions about denying people services; we shouldn’t let Google do so either.
Let’s start with the most trivial blacklist and work our way up. I’ll save the biggest and baddest – one the public knows virtually nothing about but that gives Google an almost obscene amount of power over our economic well-being – until last. Continue Reading …
I’m not sure if I agree with Robert Epstein’s conclusion that we need the government to regulate Google like a utility, but something indeed must change. A free and open society simply cannot survive under officially enforced Fascistic speech codes.