FRANK A. PASQUALE III Seton Hall University - School of Law OREN BRACHA University of Texas at Austin - School of Law July 23, 2007
U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 123
Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 1002453
Should search engines be subject to the types of regulation now applied to personal data collectors, cable networks, or phone books? In this article, we make the case for some regulation of the ability of search engines to manipulate and structure their results. We demonstrate that the First Amendment, properly understood, does not prohibit such regulation. Nor will such interventions inevitably lead to the disclosure of important trade secrets.
After setting forth normative foundations for evaluating search engine manipulation, we explain how neither market discipline nor technological advance is likely to stop it. Though savvy users and personalized search may constrain abusive companies to some extent, they have little chance of checking untoward behavior by the oligopolists who now dominate the search market. Against the trend of courts that would declare search results unregulable speech, this article makes a case for an ongoing conversation on search engine regulation.