Alongside the traditional media, online services are becoming more important in forming public and individual opinion. As the commitment to protection, deriving from Article 5, paragraph 1, section 2 of the Basic Constitutional Law, refers to the entire field of public communication, not only the potential but also the dangers of these services must be considered in designing communications policy.
Search engines as aids in the area of providing access to contents in the Internet take a central position here. Through their sway over selection and sorting of the pages displayed and through the associated canalisation of the information flow, search engines gain communicational and economic power. Here, the user can only rarely discern the principles by which the information processing has proceeded.
The survey examines the general legal framework in the four areas it identifies in this context: the way providers permit access to search engines, the prevention of a dominant influence on public opinion in the face of a provider with dominant market power and the transparency of commercial communications (keyword: procured search engine results)
Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung │ Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
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