U.S. federal and state authorities are asking detailed questions about how to limit Google’s power in the online search market as part of their antitrust investigations into the tech giant, according to rival DuckDuckGo Inc.
Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive officer of the privacy-focused search engine, said the company has spoken with state regulators, and talked with the U.S. Justice Department as recently as a few weeks ago.
Justice Department officials and state attorneys general asked the company about requiring Google to give consumers alternatives to its search engine on Android devices and in Google’s Chrome web browser, Weinberg said in an interview.
The option to search with DuckDuckGo exists in Chrome — even on Android — it’s just a matter of getting millions of people to choose an alternative search engine. Most people don’t know what a “search engine” is to begin with, so you have to explain what this is and why it’s beneficial to use DuckDuckGo or something else.
For the vast majority of users, they tap on what they’re given. But if Google did prompt users with a choice of Google or DuckDuckGo on their “Google” phones, which do you think they’ll pick? They’ll assume Google is the “right” choice since it’s a “Google” phone.
This isn’t an antitrust/monopoly issue. This is a lack of education and tech-apathy on the part of consumers. Google gets a head start by being the default search on Android and iOS devices, but the option to change it is already there. People don’t use it.
I think everyone should switch to DuckDuckGo. Google isn’t preventing anyone from doing so, and I have tech-savvy friends who prefer Google and keep it as their default search, despite knowing how to switch. Slapping Google with an anti-trust lawsuit isn’t going to make people care about their search engine. That requires a lot of very difficult and very time consuming consumer education.