Germany wants Google to reveal secret algorithm

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Germany wants visible Google algorithm

German officials have called on Google to reveal its search engine algorithm, following months of debate and inquiry related to questions of privacy and power.

The search engine is coming under increasing pressure across the EU, as leaders begin to scrutinise both its dominance of the online markets and the way it handles personal data online.

In July, Google was called to meet EU privacy watchdogs to discuss the right to be forgotten ruling, which allows individuals to request search engine links to pages with personal information be removed.

Earlier this month, Google had its third draft of an antitrust settlement rejected by Joaquin Almunia, the EU competition commissioner, marking another failure in its four year attempt to negotiate through competition sanctions.

The official position

In an interview with the Financial Times Heiko Maas, the German minister of justice and consumer protection, has said:

"When a search engine has such an impact on economic development, this is an issue we have to address.

"With a market share of 95 per cent, Google dominates the search engine world, and is able to rank its search results in a manner apt to promote its own business interests. And that is not acceptable. We must think about how to solve this problem."

Mr Maas has called on Google to reveal its search algorithm in order for the company to be more transparent, which would prove whether they favour their own business interests over others.

But Maas's move has been criticised by ex US officials and online commentators.

Robert Kimmitt, a former US ambassador to Germany, said the latter which "needs open markets for its innovative products and services, should be concerned about calls for appropriation of intellectual property," while Business Insider's James Cook said that for the sake of the algorithm "CEO Larry Page will fight to the death."