Why a state-run search engine is not a feasible idea

Why a search engine

Earlier I commented to them the proposal of a legislator of the Australian green party that el State manage your own search engine as a replacement for Google. However attractive the proposal may sound, it may not be that easy to implement.


It all started when the Competition and Consumers Commission decided to sendr a bill that establishes an arbitration procedure. This procedure is voluntary for traditional media but mandatory for technology companies. The objective is to level the playing field by having the search engine and Facebook (the recipients of the rule) negotiate with the media forms of compensation for the use of content and the ways in which changes in the indexing algorithm affect positioning.

In truth Google did not stay still and while threatening to leave, he has already rushed to negotiate with some publishers. On the government side, they decided to lend a hand to competitors, especially Bing.

The green proposal

For its part, the center-left party known as the Greens made its own proposal. In a press release they wrote:

Google's threat to leave Australia shows that we cannot depend on businesses to provide essential services such as access to information online.to. This is an opportunity for the government to investigate the creation of a publicly owned search engine that could be the gateway to the Internet for Australians. This would mean Australians could search the internet with the peace of mind that their data is not being sold to advertisers and businesses.

The Internet is an essential service for most Australians. Today, Internet access is controlled by a small number of very powerful companies. We should not look for another foreign giant to fill the void of Google, be it Microsoft or anyone else, as they will continue to profit from the data of the Australians and will be in debt to the interests of the shareholders. An independent, publicly owned search engine would be an important step in restoring a free and open Internet.

Why a state-run search engine is not a feasible proposition

On paper the green proposal sounds great:

A publicly owned search engine that is accountable to the public and not to shareholders could be established with the world's best data privacy practices to ensure that users own their own data and have control over the data that is collected about it and how they are used.

But for specialists there are quite a few obstacles to consider

In principle, the operation of a search engine is quite simple. you type in a word or phrase and receive a list of search-related websites. But, How do you determine which websites are relevant and in what order are they displayed?

The main search engines determine the results based on different parameters including location, previous searches, searches made by other users of the same topic, etc.

In addition, the peculiarities of the language must be taken into account; synonyms, words with different meanings, typos and misspellings. And, let's not forget the peculiarities of the English language of writing one way and pronouncing another.

Indexing and searching

Google has been perfecting its algorithm for more than two decades. Although, it is true that there are open source solutions that Australians could adopt to save themselves work, it will take time for it to reach the same level of quality.

But once you have the algorithm there is another problem. Complete the database. Undoubtedly, the Australian government can force all local domain sites to register with the search engine, but it will not be able to do anything with sites from other countries. Therefore, the hypothetical Australian search engine will have to implement a mechanism to crawl the World Wide Web and index its content.

And, as if that weren't enough, you should show the results quickly. From Argentina, Google took less than 1 minute to retrieve the 98000 search results for "LinuxAdictos". Without a doubt, we are talking about a considerable investment in hardware.

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  1.   Eska said

    It is not a feasible idea ... in the short term.
    It still seems like a very good idea to me. And milk! We are talking about the Australian Government, not the computer store on the corner.
    In a couple of years doing things right they can have something very, very decent. In addition, if they do it in a transparent way, they could have very clear rules of what results go before others, not like now that is an unfathomable mystery.

  2.   Camilo Bernal said

    I believe that an alternative to Google can be built, but not from a particular government but from an international, non-profit organization based on Free Software. Of course, at the beginning it would be much inferior in quality, but over the years the community would collectively manage to create a competitive product (and more if it has donations and technical support from governments).

    The Internet is too valuable to be left to private corporations.

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Yes, hours after writing it, I realized that it was not a good title. Feasible is not the word.

    2.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      That would be great

    3.    Bypper said

      Apart from the usual already known alternatives (Duckduckgo ...), there was a very interesting project that I don't know if it is still active, but it was based precisely on this:


      1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

        Stay active