What is a "search engine"? (Smile 29)


Many people where surprised when the European Parliament started discussing a written declaration (in Swedish here) with the intention to create an early warning system for pedophiles and sex offenders. Specifically when the explicit text in the declaration describe what the system is about (I have put text in bold):

Asks the Council and the Commission to implement Directive 2006/24/EC and extend it to search engines in order to tackle online child pornography and sex offending rapidly and effectively;

Today I see that one of the members of the European Parliament (Alf Svensson) wrote something I think explains one of the big problems we have.

Nu är det så att Tiziano Motti som ligger bakom Smile 29 har klargjort att han inte vill spara alla sökningar som görs på nätet. Detta har Motti även sagt till svenska Europaportalen där han klargjort att han är missförstådd. Förslaget handlar inte om sökmotorer som Google, utan om så kallade ”content providers”, det vill säga det som gör att man kan lägga upp bilder och filmer på internet (exempelvis Facebook, Youtube eller bloggverktyg). Här ska IP-nummer sparas, precis som internetoperatörerna måste göra i dag enligt datalagringsdirektivet.

In short he says that Tiziano Motti that is behind Smile 29 has stated he does not want to save data from all searches on the Internet. Or more explicitly, the proposal is not at all about search engines, but content providers such as Facebook, YouTube or various blogging tools.

The largest problem is though that mr Alf Svensson writes the following:

Visst kan kritik riktas mot att Motti valde att använda sig av begreppet ”sökmotor” framför ”content providers”, vilket uppenbarligen lett till en viss begreppsförvirring.

He says that just because Motti did choose to use the term search engine and not content provider there has been some confusion about the declaration.

I am sorry. There is no confusion. If the intention was content providers, then it should have said content providers. The distinction is very clear between a party that is providing information (potentially on behalf of someone else) and a search engine that provides pointers to information such content providers provide.

I was personally a member of the investigation on new legislation against child pornography, and a member of an expert group connected to the investigation in Sweden dealing with data retention. And on top of that I am an independent expert in the work the European Commission is doing regarding review of the Data Retention Directive. And the last year I have been working in the context of the United Nations dealing with exactly the relationship between human rights issues and new technologies, specifically Internet of course. The distinction that makes it clear who is responsible for what is very important. It is not good that there are misunderstandings around these issues.