Revista inteRnacional de Pensamiento Político - i ÉPoca - vol. 10 - 2015 - [395-410] - issn 1885-589X
hand, and what can hardly be found, on
the other hand. A web content may be pu-
blished, but it does not necessarily imply
that everyone may rapidly nd it, answe-
ring to a reasonable expectation of privacy.
This aspect is crucial in the Information
Society, because search engines are the
primary gatekeepers to digital information.
Another aspect is perhaps even more im-
portant, but it needs deeper investigation:
is there a legal obligation related to web
site indexing? In other words, is there a
right to be indexed?
In fact, if we take into account only what
happens when a search engine responds
to a query (as in the case of the right to be
forgotten), we forget what happens before:
how does a search engine build its SERP?
How does it decide what pages can be
shown and their ranking?
This is not only an antitrust matter, because
it relates to all subjects whose content is
published on the web and indexed auto-
matically by search engines. “In an envi-
ronment where consumers are no longer
passive receivers of information, but in-
creasingly active contributors to the infor-
mation ecosystem, access also concerns
the (controversial) debate about the entit-
lement of users (as creators) to be integra-
ted into search indexes and ranking lists,
or at least the possible remedies against
discrimination in the indexing or ranking
processes” (Gasser 2006: 232).
Today, a search engine can decide what
can be accessed on the web; it can hide
and/or rank information making it hardly
be found (“By controlling the communi-
cation infrastructure of the Internet, they
have become information gatekeepers”;
Laidlaw 2008: 1143). It is fair: everybody
3. Moreover, “Users have become dependent on
search engines, viewing them as authoritative and
uses a search engine to nd something.
Nevertheless, it is also fair to ask for search
(or web) neutrality.
Before investigating this aspect, it is
useful to make some preliminary observa-
tions also from the methodological point
of view in order to clarify the perspective
of this paper. Search engines are the key
information retrieval systems of the Infor-
mation Society and this eld is not new
for legal informatics4. By adopting such
approach, law can be a meta-technology,
as argued by Ugo Pagallo with reference
to the “laws of robots”. In particular, he
proposes “to approach the laws of the law
establishing the conditions of legitimacy
for the design, production, and use of
robots, conceiving the law as meta-tech-
nology, i.e., as a means to govern other
technological means” (Pagallo 2013:
10). Thus, “once such tecnique regula-
tes other techniques and, moreover, the
process of technological innovation, we
may accordingly conceive the law as a
meta-technology” (Pagallo 2013: 11).
With particular reference to search
engines, it has to be considered that the
cyberspace actually is a complex digital
maze in which it is possible to retrieve
any information stored. As the library of
Babel, it may contain the solution to many
problems (Amato Mangiameli 2000: 36).
A search engine plays a key role: it is not
just an information retrieval system, but
reliable. Search engines have become the tools
through which the democratic potential of the
Internet can be advanced or hindered” (Laidlaw
4. Legal informatics always studied information
retrieval systems and their legal issues.
Technological advancements led to growing
studies in the eld of articial intelligence in the
legal eld (including, but not limited to, legal
reasoning and automated application of the law).