by Graham Pierrepoint
With the monopoly over the search engine industry, it’s hard not to say that Google has revolutionized and made internet search all their own, having branched out with their new parent umbrella, Alphabet, to focus on areas as broad as email, robotics, driver-less cars and more. Beyond this, the firm has had to take on a ton of social responsibility. In 2017, more or less everything can be found online – barring the absolute obscure or unobtainable from history – meaning that, in order to protect users and to uphold the law, Google has had to start getting smart about what it publishes on its search results. Short of algorithms and techniques used to try and boost corporate profiles, there are some things that the Big G simply doesn’t show – and this has been extended this week.
Google have taken steps to ensure that private medical records – such as those that may disclose HIV status or blood test results – are no longer visible via their search results. The search engine has maintained a fairly autonomous approach to its running and operation in terms of search across the years – barring legal blocking and specific requests – meaning that the move to protect medical histories could be a sign of Google moving to become more privacy-conscious in the months and years to come. The news comes just days after further information regarding an unrelated incident where an Uber executive was alleged to have obtained private medical records of a legal complainant came to light – meaning that the concept of keeping medical matters private is very much in the news right now.
Google, in the same vein as Facebook, has also taken steps to try and clamp down on fake news – a phenomenon that has raised its head in recent months – along with restriction on image search as the spread of ‘revenge porn’ escalated. The engine also protects certain privacy rights as outlined in European law, and endeavors to ensure that personal records and data are restricted from search on request.
The Internet giant needs to do a lot more to ensure the protection of privacy and fair competition on the online market place, however. On Tuesday, European antitrust regulators fined Google a record $2.7 billion for illegally favoring its shopping comparison service.