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TechFreedom Panel Criticizes Search Engine Bias Claims

in Broadband's Impact/Congress by

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2011 – TechFreedom, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, assembled a panel of law professors gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss search engine bias and recent antitrust cases involving Google.

The recently-established conservative policy group moved the event to the Capitol building to make it more accessible for Senate staffers and private businessmen to attend.

Each of the members of the panel came out largely against heavy antitrust regulation of search engines, particularly Google, due to their skepticism of whether fears of search engine bias were warranted. Search engine bias is when a search engine company promotes certain content over other content at the expense of competition.

“Google is a source of a significant amount of traffic, but it is possible for new sites to be discovered and to turn into very large things whether Google promotes them or not,” said panelist James Grimmelman, a professor at New York Law School.

Not everyone in attendance agreed with the panel.

“Just because we don’t know exactly what the remedy should be doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be investigating allegations and concerns,” said a Senate aide in attendance. “The remedy is what you decide once you know what the problem is.”

Scott Cleland, author of Search & Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google, Inc., did not feel that the panel represented a full spectrum of ideas surrounding the subject.

“By focusing the panel exclusively on a straw man remedy argument, which Google obviously feels most comfortable discussing because it puts them in the role of the victim and not the alleged antitrust offender, “ said Cleland. “The panel discussion thus started and stayed biased in favor of Google.”

Josh Peterson is a DC-based journalist with a professional writing portfolio that includes work on US foreign policy and international affairs, telecom policy and cyber security, religion, arts, and music. He is currently a journalism intern at The National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. and a former tech and social media intern at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship. Peterson received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion with a minor concentration in music from Hillsdale College in 2008. When he is not writing, Peterson lives a double life as a web designer, social media strategist, photographer, musician and mixed martial artist.

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