the Irish for rights

Who will keep the keepers?

Cover of the IJLITomment on this blog that the Roman poet Juvenal asked Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (who will watch the watchers?). Emily B Laidlaw, in her fascinating article, Private Power, Public Interest: An Examination of Search Engine Accountability, raises the parallel question of who will keep the keepers? In the vast new information age bequeathed to us by the and the world wide web, gatekeepers are those who enable – and control – our access to that information. At present, they are all private entities, and even if they wish to do no evil, there is no reason why they should actually do some good, let alone act in the public interest. Laidlaw’s analysis therefore focuses on the important issue, who will keep the (gate)keepers; here’s the abstract:

As information becomes a critical commodity in modern society, the issue is raised whether the entities that manage access to information, that are tools for public discourse and democracy, should be accountable to the public. The Internet has transformed how we communicate, and search engines have emerged as managers of information, organizing and categorizing content in a coherent, accessible manner thereby shaping the Internet user’s experience. This article examines whether search engines should have public interest obligations. In order to answer this question, this article first examines comparative public interest regulatory structures, and the growing importance of the Internet to public discourse. Then examined is how the algorithmic designs and manual manipulation of rankings by search engines affects the public interest without a sufficient accountability structure. Finally, the values necessary to a public interest framework are suggested.

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5 Responses to “Who will keep the keepers?”

  1. […] never rains but it pours. Having recently blogged about about Emily Laidlaw’s article on search engine accountability, I’ve just come […]

  2. […] you liked my posts about the gatekeeper responsibilities of search engines, then you’ll have loved last […]

  3. […] for the terrible post title, my further apologies to […]

  4. […] intermediary gatekeepers in the structure of free speech about which I have written on this blog (here | here | here). At present, such intermediary gatekeepers are all private entities, operating to […]

  5. […] as Facebook and Google, can exert over the flow of information on this blog in the past (here | here | here | here | here). Concerns about the transparency of the algorithms used by such companies […]

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Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

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What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




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