Search engines ask regulators for stricter rules for selection screens

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DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Qwant are not happy with the browser selection screen on mobile devices that has been the norm for a few years now. The search engines ask regulators and politicians to hold tech companies to stricter rules.

The companies behind the three search engines do that in an open letter on the browser selection screen. They do not specifically refer to the selection screen that Google has implemented in Android since 2020, but to the recently adopted Digital Markets Act of the European Union. It also includes rules about ‘digital gatekeepers’. Search engines DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Qwant are calling on international regulators and politicians to create rules that better regulate the browser selection screens of such gatekeepers. They specifically mention ten principles that a selection screen should comply with. They also believe it should be easier to switch the default search engine in an operating system. The companies now find that too difficult.

For example, it should be free to participate in a selection screen. Google previously let search engines participate in auctions to get a place in the search engine selection screen, but stopped doing so last year. The search engines also believe that selection screens should always be visible as a clear setting and not just when setting up the device, and it should be actively displayed to users on a regular basis. The search engines also want a choice to be implemented more widely. If a user chooses a particular search engine on one device, it should also change on other devices and in search widgets, for example. Also, there shouldn’t be any technical obstacles to removing a default search engine and app, such as a browser.

The search engine companies are calling on policymakers worldwide to apply the rules they propose. They praise the European Union because several of their proposals are already included in the DMA. “The effectiveness of the EU mandate and regulatory powers worldwide depends on how gatekeepers implement these rules to comply with these new rules.” They believe that gatekeepers will not fully comply with all the rules until regulators make it clear how they will enforce the rules.

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