Freedom and the Internet: empowering citizens and addressing the transparency gap in search engines

Fernando Galindo, Javier Garcia-Marco


This work contemplates the limits and possibilities of exercising the right to freedom through the use of the Internet. Freedom can be defined as the preservation of the right of autonomy in the daily life of citizens or members of social and political organisations, whilst respecting the utilisation of this right, by oneself, or by one or more persons or citizens. A number of strengths and weaknesses are identified in this regard. The paper examines the way in which search engines like Google exemplify restrictions on freedom: they are enhanced by the use of technical resources that are aimed at the most efficient exploitation of the information available on the Internet; the resources are not utilised to reinforce the rights of the users. Finally, it is argued that the limits imposed on freedom can be overcome with the aid of technical tools such as thesauri that can produce a positive relationship between freedom and Internet.

Keywords: freedom; autonomy; rights; the Internet; open data; search engines; thesaurus

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