In an open letter to the European Commission (EC), Google search engine rivals, including the Czech company Seznam, called on the EC to arrange a trilateral meeting with the search giant. The five search engine companies want to work together to address concerns about Google’s continued dominance over devices running its Android operating system with “the goal of establishing an effective preference menu.”
Last year, Google allowed competitors to compete in quarterly auctions for inclusion among the four search engines offered to users of new Android devices in Europe. Google’s move came after a fine of 4.34 billion euros (approximately 119 billion CZK). The company received from the European Commission for blocking competition because it pre-installed its Chrome browser and Google search applications on Android smartphones and laptops.
However, competitors criticize the auction, which was confirmed in an open letter addressed to Vestager by five companies operating search engines. In addition to the List, they also include the American company DuckDuckGo, the French companies Qwant and Lilo, and the German company Ecosia.
“We understand that Google keeps you informed about its auctions, but it looks like you may not be receiving complete and accurate information,” they said. “We are requesting a tripartite meeting involving your office, us, and Google,” they added. According to them, the meeting should address the way Android users set their preferred search engine.
According to DuckDuckGo, the auction system pushes its participants to increase their revenue at the expense of users. “It pushes search engines to have a worse approach to privacy, to increase advertising,” the company said recently. “If they don’t, they can’t afford a higher bid (at auction),” they added.
“We believe that the screen that allows European users of new Android devices to choose between search providers is a solution that strikes the right balance. It gives users even more choice while ensuring that we can continue to invest in Android development and maintenance as open platforms,” they said. According to her, the initial screen gives all search providers the same chance to enter the auction.