Google\’s toolbar sparks concern

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google’s toolbar sparks concern
When this new Google toolbar finds key words in a site it directs people to pre-selected commercial websites, such as a book’s ISBN number which would turn into a link to Amazon. It is only available in America but will no doubt arrive in Europe soon.

This is big news for all web designers, and has some very important ramifications. Personally I think it is a very dodgy territory for Google to go down. What gives Google the right to change a copy write website, especially by adding links to commercial sites?

I’m sure most people are computer literate enough to be able to go to Amazon or their preferred online retailer and type in an ISBN if they really want to. The designer of the site should be able to decide which commercial sites, if any, they link to. Many sites, including University sites, have strict policies about adverts or commercial links on their websites. You could argue that the changes are on the viewer’s computer and not on the server, and so are down to the user. This does not take into account the fact that this change will happen to every user of the toolbar, and so it is in effect dissemination an altered form of potentially copy write materials.

Take for instance an online book retailer, other than Amazon, their website will no doubt be full of ISBN numbers. With this toolbar active all those numbers could potentially turn into links to Amazon. Not what they want I’m sure. They will be stuck having to have expensive rewrites of their site, or just have to put up with losing people to Amazon.

How does Google decide which companies to promote? The Internet has always been about democratising information. I can shop at Amazon just as easily as I can shop at Abebooks. The number of links, to any particular shop, you encountered on your travels through the internet was determined by thousands of individual web sites picking their preferred shop. Now it will be determined by one company; a company already in charge of 92 percent of the pages that people view .

Who controls your toolbar controls your Internet.