Why Chrome Now Requires You to Choose a Search Engine

Why Chrome Now Requires You to Choose a Search Engine

With the Digital Markets Act in effect, Google now prompts Chrome users to choose their default search engine on desktop and mobile, offering a variety of options.

Since the DMA came into effect in Europe, the six major gatekeepers—Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (TikTok), Meta (Facebook), and Microsoft—have had to comply with the new regulations.

This legislation aims to better regulate digital companies, especially Big Tech, and their activities within the European Union to prevent abuses of their dominant positions. The DMA seeks to combat anti-competitive practices, promote innovation, and better protect users and consumers. As a result, Google has made several changes to its services to comply with European law.

Whilst not immediately concerned by the DMA, the U.S. and the U.K. Bill Echikson from the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) explains that "the new law could inspire change in other countries... and ultimately force tech firms into global tweaks to their platforms."

Previously, Google had to remove Google Maps results from Google search results. Now, Google must stop favoring its own search engine in its web browser. Until recently, Chrome automatically set Google as the default search engine, benefiting the company since users rarely changed it. Recently, many users have received notifications prompting them to choose their default search engine in Chrome on PC and select their default browser and search engine on Android.

For the past few days, Chrome users have seen a pop-up titled "Your Search Engine in Chrome" when starting the browser. "In accordance with the law in your region, Chrome is asking you to select a default search engine. These search engines are popular in your region and are displayed in random order," the message reads, followed by a list of eight search engines to choose from as your new default: Google, Brave, Microsoft Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo Search, Lilo, Ecosia, and Qwant.

Each search engine is accompanied by a brief description highlighting its main feature. For example, DuckDuckGo is described as "private, fast, less ads, DuckDuckGo never tracks you," while Qwant is presented as a "trusted search engine and browser." Microsoft emphasizes that its engine is powered by ChatGPT's GPT-4, Brave highlights its ad and tracker blocking capabilities, Ecosia promotes its tree-planting efforts, and Lilo notes its support for charities.

These measures empower users to freely choose without imposition, ultimately enhancing user choice and fostering fairness for all.