Almost a year ago (April 2005), French President Jacques Chirac announced his backing of a new Euro-centric search engine called Quaero (which means ‘I am looking for' in Latin). The idea is to build a new search engine which should be capable to compete with MSN, Yahoo! and even Google. Tons of very important European companies are involved in this project, as well as the French and German governments.
Mid January 2006, there was some loud buzz in the air about this project. So loud, in fact, that they decided to get into hiding: the small and unconvincing beta website they had in place has been removed and they came with a statement that around the end of January 2006 they will come out with a new statement (actually a release was expected). Look here for a summary of the latest news.
Today is the 15th of February and I’m still waiting for such a statement…
As a side note, I’m a little ambivalent about such projects. I don’t like the idea of geologically differentiating core web parts such as search engines. I mean, come on! The past decade has seen such an improvement in accessing data by means of the Internet. Why go back? Also, I don’t like the idea of having governments messing with my searches. We’ve seen what they are capable of (see the China-Google story lately). On the other hand, I’m not sure that having companies being responsible for such an important asset being a much better solution. After all, if my interests as customers will not comply with their interests as profit-thirsty company, we all know what they will opt for (see the China-Google story again…).
IMHO there is an urgent need for international legislation of the search engines issue. I have no idea how this can be done (I don’t know much in international law), but that should be the direction. There should be a set of international laws to which each globally-available search engine should comply. Then, an international committee (with concrete punishment capabilities), would be responsible to make sure all companies/governments managing search engines would abide to these laws.