Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1747289
 
 

Footnotes (48)



 


 



The Problem of Search Engines as Essential Facilities: An Economic & Legal Assessment


Geoffrey A. Manne


International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

January 17, 2011

THE NEXT DIGITAL DECADE: ESSAYS ON THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET, p. 419, Berin Szoka, Adam Marcus, eds., TechFreedom, January 2011
Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-10

Abstract:     
What is wrong with calls for search neutrality, especially those rooted in the notion of Internet search (or, more accurately, Google, the policy scolds’ bête noir of the day) as an “essential facility,” and necessitating government-mandated access? As others have noted, the basic concept of neutrality in search is, at root, farcical. The idea that a search engine, which offers its users edited access to the most relevant websites based on the search engine’s assessment of the user’s intent, should do so “neutrally” implies that the search engine’s efforts to ensure relevance should be cabined by an almost-limitless range of ancillary concerns. Nevertheless, proponents of this view have begun to adduce increasingly detail-laden and complex arguments in favor of their positions, and the European Commission has even opened a formal investigation into Google’s practices, based largely on various claims that it has systematically denied access to its top search results (in some cases paid results, in others organic results) by competing services, especially vertical search engines. To my knowledge, no one has yet claimed that Google should offer up links to competing general search engines as a remedy for its perceived market foreclosure, but Microsoft’s experience with the “Browser Choice Screen” it has now agreed to offer as a consequence of the European Commission’s successful competition case against the company is not encouraging. These more superficially sophisticated claims are rooted in the notion of Internet search as an “essential facility” – a bottleneck limiting effective competition. These claims, as well as the more fundamental harm-to-competitor claims, are difficult to sustain on any economically-reasonable grounds. To understand this requires some basic understanding of the economics of essential facilities, of Internet search, and of the relevant product markets in which Internet search operates.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: google, internet search, search neutrality, essential facilities, antitrust, abuse of dominance

JEL Classification: K00, K21, L10, L12, L40, L42, O31, O33, O38

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: January 25, 2011 ; Last revised: October 29, 2012

Suggested Citation

Manne, Geoffrey A., The Problem of Search Engines as Essential Facilities: An Economic & Legal Assessment (January 17, 2011). THE NEXT DIGITAL DECADE: ESSAYS ON THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET, p. 419, Berin Szoka, Adam Marcus, eds., TechFreedom, January 2011; Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1747289

Contact Information

Geoffrey A. Manne (Contact Author)
International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) ( email )
2325 East Burnside St.
Suite 301
Portland, OR 97214
United States
503-770-0650 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.laweconcenter.org
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 3,225
Downloads: 493
Download Rank: 32,342
Footnotes:  48

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.359 seconds