Hacking at Random
Hacking happens

Joris van Hoboken
Day Thursday - 2009-08-13
Room Monty Hall
Start time 20:00
Duration 01:00
ID 91
Event type Lecture
Language used for presentation English

Search engines and censorship

The law and politics of the digital horizon

Search engines and censorship: the law and politics of the digital horizon

Censorship strategies are as old as political power and knowledge. One particularly reprehensible strategy, namely the suppression of findability, is increasingly being presented as a solution for the proliferation of illegal and harmful information and ideas on the net. Since it is hard to target material at the source or prevent it from flowing over the network, public and private actors have started to target the signposts and maps of the online environment, namely search engines and search technology. In this presentation I will confront some of the restrictions that the law places on services and tools that help us navigate the Web. I will also point to various proposals that aim to censor search engines or limit the deployment and distribution of search technology. The danger of this type of censorship is that it specifically tries to distort our impression of reality. An example from the dead tree world would be the removal of controversial books form a library catalogue, or the removal of a city from a map. In the online world various types of meta-search and p2p-technology have already fallen victim, and search engines like Google regularly remove material from their index without due process. I will present some ideas how to confront the dangers of the suppression of findability and discuss possible counter-strategies of a legal or techno-political nature, which could help to resist and protect us against a (further) collapse of our digital horizon.