Google has apparently succumbed to pressure from the entertainment industry and blocked many piracy-related terms from the "autocomplete" and "instant" function on its search bar. The blockage, which mainly involves torrent-related websites, will not affect that outcomes of the actual search, and the results at the moment, seem somewhat arbitrary. Type in 'bittorent,' and you're on your own, 'pirate music' and the results for the Pirate Bay will come up instantly.
Google already has restricted these two functions from pornographic and potentially illegal searches, and their selective choices for what 'autocomplete' will help you search for (you type: "How to kill a person", Google suggests: and "get away with it") and won't (you type: "Sex positions" and Google gives you a blank screen) reveal some curious cultural biases. Is that us or them? Is it censorship in the first place? Do we really want Google assisting us with our searches at all? (And why don't pirates have peg legs any more? Googling now...). Here's some of the debate around this pseudo-censorship:
- Commercial Censorship "It's taken a while, but Google has finally caved in to pressure from the entertainment industries ... The entertainment industries' quest to root out piracy on the Internet has yet again resulted in commercial censorship," says TorrentFreak.
- Why Us and Not Them? "There's no reason for Google to throttle search results for our trademarks ... Indeed, they do still enable autocomplete for many third-party clients that use the BitTorrent protocol, including BitComet, BitLord, and even sites like The Pirate Bay and Isohunt," BitTorrent's Simon Morris told TorrentFreak, as reported on Tech Eye.
- In Bed With Business? "This is a subtle form of censorship, and at first glance it seems trivial," says Charlie White at Mashable. "However, even though the censorship is slight, it still indicates Google’s willingness to change its search protocols to satisfy the needs of a certain business group, in this case members of the entertainment industry."