Four rival Google search engines have asked European Union lawmakers to address the tech giant’s continued dominance in the market by setting rules for search engine preference menus, arguing that the tech giant’s ability to set values Harmful defaults continue to limit the ease with which consumers can switch to non-Google alternatives.
In an open letter today, untracked search engines DuckDuckGo and Qwant, along with technology-for-good-focused Lilo and tree-planting nonprofit Ecosia, urge region lawmakers to go further. to address the market power of the platform giants.
“The DMA [Digital Market Law] urgently needs to be adapted to prevent gatekeepers from suppressing search engine competition,” they write. “Specifically, the DMA should enshrine in law a requirement for a menu of search engine preferences that would effectively prohibit Google from acquiring default search access points from gatekeepers’ operating systems and browsers. Additionally, the DMA should ensure that, in addition to selecting their preferred default search on initial onboarding, consumers can switch with a single click at any time via prompts from competing search engine apps or websites. These actions would ultimately lead to significant implications for competition in the search engine market and would ensure that there is true consumer choice online. ”
The Commission introduced the Digital Markets Law at the end of last year, proposing a fixed set of ex ante rules for the so-called “gatekeepers” of the Internet with the aim of ensuring that these giants of Internet intermediaries cannot abuse their power to crush the Internet. competitors and squeeze consumers.
However, Google’s four search rivals say the currently proposed legislation does not contain any measures to help break the tech giant’s continuing dominance in search in Europe (where it has around 93 percent), hence their call for EU lawmakers to make amendments to add binding rules for search preference screens so that consumers always have the ability to change their default search engine option. either on the mobile or on the desktop.
While the Commission was responsible for the original draft of the WFD, the other central EU institutions (the European Parliament and Member States, through the Council of the EU) have to agree on the details for negotiations on the exact form to continue. of the regulation.
“We welcome the Commission’s goals with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), but the DMA does not address the sharpest barrier in search: grabbing Google’s pre-positions,” the four search rivals also write. “Google would not have become the general watchdog of the market that they are today without years of blocking these defaults. If the DMA does not address this fundamental issue, we believe the status quo will continue, leaving the root cause of this issue unchanged.”
Google has been contacted for comment on the claims.
In 2018, the EU competition commission fined Google $ 5 billion for antitrust abuses in the way it operates its Android smartphone platform.
Following that intervention, the tech giant introduced a regional search preference screen that was displayed when setting up a new Android smartphone in Europe. However, Google quickly implemented a sealed-bid auction model that required rivals to pay for it (and outperform each other) to appear in one of the available slots, which competitors immediately denounced as unfair and non-transparent.