Google is temporarily blocking results that point to news originating in California in retaliation to a proposed law requiring search engines to pay for such results. Google crawls these California local news sites and indexes them for search, then they display a excerpt on their search results page. This has been seen in the US as "fair use" by copyright law - meaning the except and link do no violate copyrights of the originator. The proposed California law tries to modify this dynamic, and it should be said that this will apply to ALL search engines.

When I read this I thought - so what? I use Duckduckgo and will not be affected by Google's tantrums. But if the law passes, Duckeuckgo will have to pay also. Oh well. The internet is quickly going dark anyway. So much content is going behind paywalls, being hidden in "apps" that are not crawlable and that I don't have accounts on. The days of having a single search engine are long gone and the whole new set of issues around AI's use of content (IMO NOT covered by "fair use") has only accelerated the spreading darkness by taking more content out of the public eye.

In the "good old days" of the internet we were willing to put up with ads to view content. But then the tech to add trackers to ads led to greater targeting through greater surveillance of consumers (that's what trackers do). So I for one disabled tracking, and the ads that feed trackers. So the ad revenue of some sites was affected by me and other ad-blockers.

I once pointed this out to people at Ars Technica. They had a pop-up notice that I must disable my ad-blocker to view their content. I wrote to them that I would IF they disabled all tracking. They actually responded. They said, "we understand and sympathize but cannot at present disable trackers." What they meant was that their ad networks would not do this for them. I miss Ars.

I have mixed feelings about the California approach. If so much content is siphoned out of a news article that most people will not need to go to the site, then revenue at the site will shrivel. But if the news sites wanted to block Google they already have the ability to do so and don't. They want revenue from Google but do not really want to block Google if they don't get it - at least not yet. The California law if trying to force the issue with the state legislature acting as a middle man. These seems like a labor strike to me. The union decides to strike then the company decides to lock the strikers out. Eventually both parties come to understand they can't do without each other and settle. Under this analogy Google struck first by locking out content Now the content people could disable crawling with robots.txt. Eventually Google and the content people will come to some understanding. Not sure if the California legislature's involvement will help or hinder the conflict.

If Google makes money from search, shouldn't they share some with the content people? Seems only fair. Google feeds a vast surveillance industry by linking to other people's content and tracking where people go (they have lots of other ways to track people but let's stick to simple search results links for now). Without the content, they cannot surveil. It could also be argued that without search the content people can't get to consumers. This last point is beginning to erode as more content people erect paywalls and put content behind opaque "apps" that Google has no access to (Google is blocked from crawling Facebook for instance, which has it's own surveillance system). So Google seems to be playing a loosing game in the very very long run, before they get to the extreme of that trend they'll change course. In fact they already have many other way to track people like their ad network, which CAN see into apps. So don't short Alphabet stock just yet.

I may refuse to participate in this surveillance economy as much as possible but I do wish the content people weren't forced into the dark - and yes I do subscribe to selected content where I can. I contribute to Wikipedia, support some YouTubers. subscribe and pay for the news I read all the time, and block trackers and ads that feed them. I refuse Google products that surveil. Join me supporting content creators and allowing ads without trackers and we'll see how it all settles out.

Side note: Duckduckgo makes money from keyword based ads, like Google - but without trackers. Kind of like those "good old days" I mentioned above. They are growing fast, searches were up something like 50% from 2020 to 2021 and they're profitable. They share revenue with certain charitable orgs but so far have not shared with content people afaik. Will they side with Google or the CA legislature?