Germany asks Google to reveal its search algorithm, but that won't happen

Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen

Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen

Business Insider
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Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM

Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen

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Heiko Maas, demanding Google justice, German style

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

German justice minister Heiko Maas is calling on Google to become more transparent by disclosing exactly how it ranks search results.

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This, of course, will simply never happen. The algorithm is the heart of Google, the source of all its wealth and power as the planet's best index of knowledge. Google is just never going to give that up. CEO Larry Page will fight to the death.

Nonetheless, in an interview with the Financial Times, Maas explains that Germany is unhappy with the search giant's actions in Europe and wants it to reveal the details of its search algorithm in the interests of consumer protection.

Google Search remains the most important part of Google's business, with advertising on the platform forming the majority of its $60 billion in annual revenue. But now, Germany's government has escalated its antitrust case against the company by requesting that Google publishes how websites are ranked on Google Search. 

Google has apparently pushed back against the request, claiming that publishing the search engine algorithm would mean revealing its business secrets and opening up the service to exploitation by spammers. 

The EU has been working for four years to try to break up Google's dominance over web search in Europe. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Google handles over 90 percent of web searches in Europe, a larger percentage than its 68 percent share of the American search market. The EU has continually pushed Google to make concessions in the way it displays search results, the most notable of which is the "right to be forgotten" law that means private individuals in the EU can force Google to delist web pages about them. Last week the EU rejected a proposed compromise from Google, meaning that the company could still face a $6 billion fine.

James Cook is a European technology reporter for Business Insider.