The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

The first part of the answer is we don't have a switch that we can flip, or a button we can push to make that happen. But I think a second and important part of the answer is I'm not sure on policy grounds that you would want such a thing to exist, because while our algorithms, our computer programs are quite good at identifying when a page is relevant to a query, the kinds of things we work on, they're not good at making the kind of judgments that the judge or a court or a human would make about the context in which something appears.

So they won't necessarily distinguish between a particular image or a particular text phrase used in news reporting or scholarship or art criticism compared to when used in some other context. So if there were to be this sort of -- the switch that you flipped to make all duplicates disappear, I think that an inevitable result would be overfiltering and would be the suppression of perfectly lawful content to the detriment of the webmasters who put up that content. A small business, a small newspaper, losing its traffic from one of the major search engines and losing a lot of readers because of sort of overbreadth of technical filtering.

If I could offer a personal anecdote on this, I am a mother of two young children, and I miss them when I travel like this, so last night I used my mobile phone to try to look at some pictures of them, which my husband uploaded -- you know, they're our pictures, we took them, and my husband uploaded them to Flickr, which is a photo hosting site owned by Yahoo, and the mobile carrier gave me a message saying that I couldn't see them unless I attested that I was over 18 and then another message saying I was not allowed to attest that I was over 18. So I was technologically blocked from seeing pictures of my own children that I took and that my husband uploaded. This is, I think, an example of the kind of technical error and overbreadth of filtering that can arise through perfectly good intentions.

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