Privacy Victory: DuckDuckGo Set to Dominate Android Searches
In a substantial win for privacy advocates, a recent antitrust ruling by the European Union opens up a new era for Android users in the EU. Commencing March, users will enjoy the privilege of choosing from four search engines during the setup of their Android devices. This choice will subsequently become their default search option when initiating searches in Chrome or the Android home search box. Notably, the dedicated app of the chosen default search provider will also find its place on individual devices.
While Google remains a viable option, users must explicitly state their preference for it to retain its default setting.
The Antitrust Backdrop
DuckDuckGo, the privacy-conscious search engine, emerged victorious in a competitive bidding process, securing its place as the most frequent default option in EU countries. While this doesn’t guarantee it automatic dominance among Android devices in the EU, it undeniably enhances the company’s image and overall visibility.
Google’s Compelled Inquiry
Why is Google being compelled to inquire about users’ preferences? A landmark EU antitrust ruling in July 2018 imposed a hefty fine of nearly 5 billion USD on Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The ruling stated that “Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine…denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition,” deeming the practice illegal under EU law.
The EU lawmakers specifically highlighted Alphabet’s mandatory pre-installation of Google’s suite of apps, including search and Chrome, for smartphone manufacturers to access the Play Store. Additionally, reported payments to manufacturers and mobile network operators to exclusively use Google apps, along with preventing some from running alternative Android versions, were deemed contrary to antitrust regulations.
A Shift in User Control
Android users always had the ability to choose a default search engine other than Google, but buried deep within the settings menu, this option remained elusive for most users. The new system rectifies this, putting users firmly in control during the setup, where they must select their search engine preference. Each EU country has different search options based on an auction system.
Every provider conveyed to Google the amount they’re willing to pay each time they’re selected. The top three providers are displayed to users, with Google rounding out the list. However, the selected company pays the amount offered by the fourth-highest bid, not its own price. This practice will commence in March, with auction bids reviewed every four months.
Austria: DuckDuckGo, GMX, Info.com
Belgium: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Bulgaria: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Croatia: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Czech Republic: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Seznam
Denmark: DuckDuckGo, Givero, Info.com
Estonia: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Yandex
Finland: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Yandex
France: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Germany: DuckDuckGo, GMX, Info.com
Greece: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Hungary: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Iceland: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Ireland: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Italy: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Latvia: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Yandex
Liechtenstein: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Lithuania: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Yandex
Luxembourg: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Malta: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Netherlands: DuckDuckGo, GMX, Info.com
Norway: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Poland: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Yandex
Portugal: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Republic of Cyprus: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Romania: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Slovakia: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Seznam
Slovenia: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
Spain: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, Qwant
Sweden: DuckDuckGo, Info.com, PrivacyWall
United Kingdom: Bing, DuckDuckGo, Info.com
DuckDuckGo dominates all countries except the UK, where Microsoft’s Bing secured the top bid, likely due to the higher revenue potential from search ads in the UK compared to countries like Latvia and Croatia. Tor vpn free.
When Alphabet initially announced the auction for Android search providers, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg criticized the decision, asserting that Google would continue to profit at the competition’s expense.
“A pay-to-play auction with only 4 slots means consumers won’t get all the choices they deserve, and Google will profit at the expense of the competition. We encourage regulators to work directly with Google, us, and others to ensure the best system for consumers.” – Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg) August 2, 2019
However, Weinberg seems to have softened his stance, recognizing the invaluable opportunity for his company to gain prominent visibility among consumers.
Nonetheless, if you cherish your privacy, disdain unsolicited advertisements, and seek to avoid intrusive surveillance tech monitoring your online actions, this news is indeed a cause for celebration.
Q: How does the new default search engine system work for Android users in the EU?
A: Starting March, users can choose from four search engines during setup, with their selection becoming the default search option.
Q: Why did DuckDuckGo win the competitive bidding process?
A: DuckDuckGo, a privacy-conscious search engine, won the bid due to its commitment to user privacy, securing its place as the most frequent default option in EU countries.