Australian watchdog wants mandatory screen for search engines on Android

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The Australian Competition Watchdog wants to introduce a mandatory selection screen on Android smartphones with an overview of competing search engines. With this it wants to break the dominance of Google Search and give competitors a better chance.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Protection watchdog, ACC for short, competing search engines are having a harder time reaching consumers and competing with Google. “Google pays billions of dollars a year to be set as the default search engine in the Safari web browser and also makes agreements with Android smartphone manufacturers to make Search the default search engine there too,” it says in a report. “However, it is crucial for competing search engines to gain access to consumers. That way they can grow and compete with the American company. Google has made this more difficult with its practices,” the watchdog said.

The ACC therefore recommends introducing a mandatory selection screen on all existing and new Android smartphones, but also on all search screens within Android. Such a choice screen gives consumers the opportunity to make an informed choice about the search engine they use. “These screens can break down barriers that Google’s competitors face and offer a search engine that handles privacy and data collection differently,” the authority said.

The Australian authority also asks in the report for permission to introduce additional measures to ‘improve’ competition in the search engine market. For example, the ACC is considering a ban on linking search engines to certain services.

In 2020, the ACC was asked by the Australian government to conduct five-year research into the digital services market in Australia. It takes a close look at internet search engines, social media companies, instant messaging services, digital content companies and marketplaces, among others.

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