Search engine choice screen to stop Google

Australian internet users would be asked to choose a search engine from a mandatory screen as part of efforts to break Google’s dominance.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday asked to be given powers to develop the screen, described in its third interim report investigating digital platform services.

The report, which examines search engine selection screens like those in Europe, claims that default settings strengthen Google services.

ACCC President Rod Sims said this innovation was stifling and reducing consumer choice.

He said consumers may not be aware of search engines that protect user privacy or have an ecological orientation. Examples are tree-themed DuckDuckGo and Ecosia.

Mr Sims said a competitive search market could benefit consumers by having fewer sponsored search results, better data protection and other rewards.

A Google spokesperson said people search using Google because it’s useful, not because they have to.

Google’s Android mobile operating system, used on phones, allowed users to customize their device, he said.

“We continue to review the report and look forward to discussing it with the ACCC and the government,” he said.

Google holds 94% of the search engine market in Australia, according to the ACCC report.

Google has provided a search engine choice screen for Android users in Europe, following concerns from the European Commission over its dominance.

Regulators around the world are examining the competitive practices and power of tech giants over a number of issues as they wield growing economic and political influence.

Last year, the Australian government asked the ACCC to conduct a five-year investigation into the provision of digital platform services and their impact on consumers.

Reports on online retail markets and a broader report on advertising and competition issues will follow next year.