Dominant Search Engines: An Essential Cultural & Political Facility
THE NEXT DIGITAL DECADE, ESSAYS ON THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET, Chapter 7, p. 401, Berin Szoka, Adam Marcus, eds., TechFreedom, Washington, D.C., 2010
20 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2011
Date Written: January 15, 2011
When American lawyers talk about "essential facilities," they are usually referring to antitrust doctrine that has required certain platforms to provide access on fair and nondiscriminatory terms to all comers. Some have recently characterized Google as an essential facility. Antitrust law may shape the search engine industry in positive ways. However, scholars and activists must move beyond the crabbed vocabulary of competition policy to develop a richer normative critique of search engine dominance.
In this chapter, I sketch a new concept of "essential cultural and political facility," which can help policymakers recognize and address situations where a bottleneck has become important enough that special scrutiny is warranted. This scrutiny may not always culminate in regulation. However, it clearly suggests a need for publicly funded alternatives to the concentrated conduits and content providers colonizing the web.
Keywords: search engines, essential facilities, antitrust,doctrine, Google, dominance
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