22 Theses of SuMa-eV

1. Every day we build our decisions on experience and on knowledge currently available.

2. If we need additional knowledge, we keep us informed by access on media such like newspapers, books and more und more the Internet.

3. The Internet maps a continuously growing part of the world's knowledge as an amorphous univers of information.

4. On this we have access via search engines wich in response to a query give us results in the form of a listing of links to suitable sources.

5. Sources of information on the internet, whowever, are of very variable quality.

6. Therefore it is very important, to get reliable links on trustworthy and consistent sources.

7. The order and therewith the valuation of this links - the so-called "ranking" - is defined by the algorithms and valuation standards of the search engine provider.

8. The search engine provider's valuation standards reflect allways his own particular judgements, values and interests.

9. Therefore it is important to use several different search engines working independently of each other to receive an overview of suitable sources as neutral and profound as possible.

10. From this it conclusively follows, that search services should not be operated in the form of monopolies, rather a pluralistic search-engine-infrastructure should be available, wich is reasonable on democracy and as such can not be monopolized.

11. Unlike access to newspapers and books access to sources on the internet generaly is logged automaticaly, the user data can be recorded and step by step - without his knowledge - cumulated in a user profile.

12. Therefore serach engine providers should not be allowed to generate user profiles without explicit agreement by the user and to use user data in any intrasparent way.

13. Information retrieval on the internet is ruled by two essential and dominant services:
  • search engine Goolge,
  • online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

14. In the long run in case of quasi-monopolies there is danger for the results of information retrieval to be determined by influences of unknown provider mechanisms.

15. Thus it has to be stated, that by the developement and operating pluralistic serach-engine-infrastructures a free and democratic access to knowledge on the internet can be provided and undesirable cumulation as well as misuse of user data can be avoided.

16. However barriers as below hinder such a search-engine-infrastructure:
  • the current market situation for competitors (i.e. the existing quasi-monopolies),
  • low knowledge of above-mentioned mechanisms and lacking awareness of potential danger concerning the infringement of fundamental rights (for example privacy and informational self-determination) among users.

17. From this generaly follows a naive attitude to the problem of information monopolies on the internet and low interest among users in new competitors.

18. The established quasi-monopolies hinder the rise of new competitors already through their current market power, for example
  • by taking over potential competitors
  • taking over the staff of new competitors ('know-how-drain')
  • monopolizing basic sources for income (online-advertising)
  • cross-financing numerous free services for the purpose of customer retention.

19. Market-based control mechanisms are widely abrogated by existing global quasi monopolistic structures.

20. A turnaround of the above-mentioned situation therefore is not to be expected form new technologies but primarily from changes of user behavior due to increasing information literacy.

21. Because information literacy plays a key role fore the information society, its strengthening is of vital interest, as well regarding the problem of monopolies as even generaly for the further social development of information society.

22. The developement of information literacy whoever must not be confined to the general public, in a more intensive manner it has to find entrance into university education, to prepare the breeding ground for this cultural technique better than before.