Google rivals sent letter calling for more EU antitrust action
- Four of Google’s biggest rivals have called on EU lawmakers to take new anti-trust measures.
- They called on lawmakers to ban Google’s default position on browsers like Safari and Firefox.
- Read the open letter to the European Commission signed by DuckDuckGo and Ecosia.
Four of Google’s best-known search engines have called on EU lawmakers to take further antitrust action against the company, saying its default stance on web browsers like Safari and Firefox has given it an unfair competitive advantage.
Search rivals DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Lilo and Qwant have urged lawmakers to end Google’s “hoarding of default positions” on web browsers, in an open letter to the European Commission. Rivals have also demanded that the tech giant be forced to make it easy for users to set up or switch to alternatives.
Google’s search engine is already the default engine for its own browser, Chrome, which controls around 69% of the market. But the company also has multi-billion dollar deals with Apple and Mozilla, maintaining its position as the go-to search engine for their respective browsers.
The company’s main rivals have told Insider the EU needs to take action, with
CEO Gabriel Weinberg accusing Google of suppressing competition “by making change unnecessarily difficult”.
Google did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
The insider obtained a copy of the open letter the four companies released on Thursday.
Read the letter in full below:
Open letter to lawmakers
We are companies whose search engines compete vigorously to provide consumers with a wide range of choices for searching the web. We welcome the Commission’s goals with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), but the DMA fails to overcome the biggest hurdle in research: Google’s hoarding of default positions.
Google wouldn’t have become the gatekeeper to the market it is today without years of locking in these defaults. If DMA fails to fix this fundamental problem, we believe the status quo will continue, leaving the root cause of this problem unaffected.
In response to the European Commission’s ruling on Android competition, Google has implemented a preferences menu that allows users to choose their default search when setting up an Android device.
Yet despite recent changes, we don’t believe its market share will increase significantly due to its persistent limitations. First, it is not available on Chrome desktop or other operating systems. Second, it’s only shown once, in an onboarding process designed by Google and owned by Google, when users aren’t inclined to change a search engine. If they later decide to change the default search settings, they need to do more than 15 clicks or factory reset their phone. Third, it does not apply to all research hotspots in Android, and similarly we have no guarantee that it will apply to new research hotspots that emerge.
These and other limitations imposed by Google make it difficult for consumers to adopt other search engines, despite the Commission’s antitrust ruling. As MEP Yon-Courtin proposed in her draft report for the Committee on Economic Affairs, we believe that a well-designed preference menu should be mandated more broadly.
As a result, DMA urgently needs to be adapted to prevent gatekeepers from suppressing search engine competition. Specifically, the DMA should enshrine in law the requirement for a menu of search engine preferences that would effectively prohibit Google from acquiring search access points by default of operating systems and browsers from gatekeepers. .
In addition, the DMA should ensure that in addition to selecting their preferred default search during the initial onboarding, consumers can change with one click at any time via prompts from search engine applications or competing websites. These actions would ultimately have important implications for competition in the search engine market and ensure real choice for online consumers.