Government regulation of Google

Google logoA top executive has argued that government regulation may be required over the position of search results in Google.

Bad idea.

Government regulation is the absolute last resort. It might start with good intentions and the Government might have a light touch, but it would open the floodgates. Regulation only becomes more onerous and cumbersome over time. It stifles businesses ability to innovate, it slows progress and it takes some of the fun out of business.

In the free market, if Google screws up, we can go to Yahoo or Bing or another search engine. If they all screw up, a new competitor will rise. It is a self regulating system.

I trust an honest company (such as Google) more than any government, sadly.

3 Comments »

  1. Ian Stalvies said,

    July 15, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

    Hi Jake,

    Interesting read, thanks for posting it. Did he really suggest regulating search results specifically? I didn’t take that from the article.

    For me the regulation / government debate usually comes down to whether something is a “public good” … ie. is there fair competition, is there REALLY a “free market”? I think this is where he is coming from, it’s more an anti-monopoly argument he is hinting at – can we trust any corporation once it gets such dominance, turkeys voting for Christmas and all that.

    Google’s “Do No Evil” motto helped its perception for some time but from memory, they have broached this (eg. filtering search results in China) but unlike Microsoft, who we all cheered against with the anti-trust suit in Europe, they seem to have a long rope.

    Do I think regulation is the answer – no, not really, I think in time their dominance will be eroded naturally, but doesn’t hurt to give them a kick every now and again. Pretty difficult in a practical sense though, obviously (and not sure a typical government would have the nous to do so!)

    Cheers, Iano.

    ps. interesting pub argument next time I see you – is regulation slow and cumbersome because it’s GOVERNMENT, or because it’s a big, ugly, inefficient bureaucracy. I can give you examples of nimble govt depts (Victoria sadly, not NSW) as well as hideously bloated privateers (em, might affect my job security to name names) that would be interesting case studies against!

  2. Ian Stalvies said,

    July 15, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    pps. are you angling for a job at the Googleplex with the size of that logo ;o)

  3. Jake Brumby said,

    July 15, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    Another debate to be had in the pub… are all monopolies bad?

    When we think of monopolies, we probably think of privatised national utilities and know first of their dire customer service. Government regulation has been effective at spurring competition against the goliaths. But when the monopoly is born from entrepreneurship and innovation… surely it deserves its success. Google has 65% of the search market (and still growing) because its better than the competition. Good on ‘em.

    Another form of monopoly is dictatorship. It can (and normally does) go horribly wrong, but when the monopoly is doing good, not evil, its a runaway success… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Kuan_Yew

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