Europe has a deeply unequal technological playing field. But as Members of the European Parliament prepare to vote in plenary on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) on Wednesday, there is a chance to correct that course.
MEPs must maintain the significant progress made in legislation, such as with regard to advertising platforms, as well as major victories achieved by the European Commission in recent months, such as the Google Shopping affair and the Android choice – demonstrating the ability of the EU to take concrete action to create a fair and competitive European market.
MEPs must now secure a majority on the main amendments tabled ahead of plenary and after the crucial vote by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection last month. The most important are those focused on default settings that would finally bar tech giants like Google from locking down default search settings on control platforms and once and for all offer European consumers a real choice on mobile and desktop devices.
Why are the default settings important?
The vast majority of Internet users have never chosen their search engine and 95% of Internet users remain on their default platform. The data shows the power of defaults, and given how much Google is currently paying to secure its pre-defined default position on other access control platforms, it’s no wonder the tech giant technology is able to retain 97% of the mobile search engine market share across Europe. .
Last summer, following sustained pressure from independent search engines such as Ecosia, the European Commission asked Google to ditch the pay-to-play element of its Android screen of choice – a self-remedy. widely discredited designed created by Google following the Android decision of 2018, where it was fined 4.3 billion euros for monopoly behavior.
Based on our preliminary data, we’ve seen our Android mobile search volumes increase by around 7% in just two months after Google opened up the Choice Screen to alternative providers – which, according to current projections. , amounts to 50% in the coming year.
The free choice screen is a big step, but there is still a lot to do
We know that when given the option to select their default search engine, more and more Europeans will choose alternatives to Google that better match their environmental or privacy values.
However, Google’s screen of choice remains insufficient in several respects, as stated in this joint letter signed by Ecosia, DuckDuckGo, Qwant and Lilo and in alignment with BEUC.
For this reason, we have collectively called on lawmakers to ensure that every user is able to freely choose which search engine they use across desktop and mobile operating ecosystems through a ‘one-click switch’ mechanism. , as well as to prohibit privileged agreements between gatekeepers which currently provide default status on a number of web browsers.
The joint letter also highlights the failures of the remedy to apply only to a fraction (only 2%) of the total mobile market. By failing to extend a screen of choice beyond new devices, millions of existing Android users are unable to select alternative search engines and Google continues to profit from a proven infringement on existing mobile devices , not to mention desktop computers (or other devices).
We have advocated for default settings for years and have proven our case. What was deemed anti-competitive by the EU in the case of the Android screen of choice must now be reflected in EU law through DMA. Unfortunately, the current version of DMA will not prevent Google from accumulating default positions wherever it can and attacking its entrenched dominance.
It’s time for EU lawmakers to take over default settings in DMA
As DMA nears its crucial final stages, we urge EU lawmakers to resist pressure from gatekeepers at the expense of millions of consumers and put defaults high on the priority list. As calls for mandatory screens of choice spill over to regulators around the world in an attempt to break Google’s dominance in the search market, the DMA must demand that all platforms to Access Control offer users a fair choice screen at no cost to default settings and allow users to change their default settings with a clear and accessible one-click switch.
Disregarding the default settings in DMA not only cements the status quo, but eliminates the prospect of installing fair competition and genuine consumer choice for Europeans for years to come, which could undermine the position of leader of the EU as she prepares to write the rules for the Internet’s next chapter.