Tag: Chrome

Google is stifling competitors, says DuckDuckGo

Source: IOL

Google is already facing mounting legal challenges from regulators globally who accuse the tech giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly over its search and digital advertising businesses.

But now one of its most prominent rivals is alleging that the titan is abusing browser extensions to favor its products and stifle competitors, adding a new wrinkle to the high-stakes antitrust debate and momentum to calls for new regulation.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, whose company offers a competing search engine that touts its privacy protections, said during an interview Tuesday that Google is deploying manipulative design features, known as “dark patterns,” to trick users into abandoning rival products.

According to DuckDuckGo, Google for years has used misleading notifications to lure users into disabling its rival’s browser extensions and to discourage them from switching their default search engines on its web browser, Chrome. But Weinberg said Google in August 2020 tweaked the prompts to more blatantly nudge users away from jumping ship.

The changes include requiring users to answer whether they would rather “Change back to Google search” after adding the DuckDuckGo extension and showing users a larger, highlighted button when giving them the option to “Change it back” or not.

Weinberg said the tweaks – although subtle – have had a major impact.

Since Google implemented the changes, DuckDuckGo said it has seen a significant drop – 10 percent – in how many new users it has been able to retain on its services on Chrome. DuckDuckGo said that has translated to hundreds of thousands of new users lost. (Chrome is the world’s most prevalent desktop browser by a wide margin.)

It’s the first time the company is publicly speaking out about how the practice has impacted its business, including what it says are millions in potential lost revenue since Google changed its prompts in 2020.

“For search engines like us that are trying to actively allow consumers to switch, [or] choose an alternative, they’re making it unreasonably complicated to do so and confusing consumers,” Weinberg said of Google.

Google spokeswoman Julie Tarallo McAlister said in a statement that Chrome users “can directly change their default search settings at any time,” but they often complain “when they download an extension that unexpectedly changes these settings without their knowledge.”

She added, “This issue has been well-documented for a long time and is why we have long had clear disclosure requirements for extensions and shown users a notification if any extension tries to change their search settings – as a way to confirm their intent.”

McAlister said the notification appears “regardless of the user’s chosen search provider,” and that some other browsers have “similar policies.”

Weinberg said he hopes by speaking out about the tactic it will strengthen calls for bipartisan antitrust legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill to ban major platforms from prioritizing their own products and disadvantaging rivals.

The proposals are just some of the numerous bills targeting what U.S. lawmakers say are anti-competitive abuses by companies like Google. But the bills, spearheaded by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., boast broad backing from Democrats and Republicans, making them among the most threatening for Silicon Valley giants. They’re seen as bellwethers for the larger antitrust push.

Weinberg said the drop in user retention via their extension on Chrome, which was previously unreported, is one of the most “direct” pieces of evidence they have seen about how Google’s practices have harmed their business.

“I think it really helps to make it concrete and show some very specific examples of where things are happening,” he said during a 30-minute video interview.

It’s a finding that could also serve as fodder for state and federal enforcers as they press ahead with their antitrust lawsuits against the tech behemoth.

The Justice Department in October 2020 filed a gargantuan lawsuit alleging that Google violated several federal antitrust laws through its search practices. Dozens of state attorneys general in December of that year followed suit with a separate antitrust complaint against the tech giant. Google has disputed allegations it stifles competition and argued the lawsuits are flawed.

Weinberg said the company has briefed policymakers in Washington and regulators about its concerns over Google’s search engine practices, including those leading antitrust efforts in Congress. “A lot of people have reached out to us over time, and we are responsive,” he said.

He added, “We’ve been in touch with the DOJ and we’re trying to help them, and the states for that matter, in their case to provide them with any information that would be helpful.”

But those legal bouts are poised to drag out over several years, which Weinberg said makes the need for Congress to act and pass new laws even more pressing.

“We definitely need momentum on real legislation,” he said.

Google is fighting antitrust battles overseas, too, including in the European Union, where in November it lost a major appeal to overturn a landmark antitrust case. The bloc is also advancing two major proposals, the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, that aim to curtail alleged abuses by giant tech platforms. But that’s not all DuckDuckGo has its eyes on.

“The two other countries that we’re focused on is Australia and the [United Kingdom],” Weinberg said.

Those are just two more regions where Google and other tech giants are now facing surging efforts to overhaul regulation of their sector.

 

Source: Mapletronics

In a time when billions of login credentials are floating around the internet, Google’s new Chrome extension aims to help.

Google’s new extension (currently only available for Chrome) will alert you if one of your username/password combinations is known to already be ‘out in the wild’, according to the company’s blog post.

The extension called Password Checkup, works in the background whenever enter your login details on a site. It compares the data against a large database with nearly four billion credentials that are known to be compromised over the years. If Password Checkup finds a match a red alert box appears and gives you a suggestion to change your password.

Google worked closely with cryptography experts at Stanford University to ensure that your credentials are not compromised while using Password Checkup. In its security blog, Google highlighted that Password Checkup scrambles all credentials with hashing and encryption as protection. Google also assures users that their login details are never seen by the company itself, either.

Don’t have Chrome? There are several other services available for free on the internet that can check to see if your credentials or other personal details have been compromised in a growing number of breaches. Check out Have I Been Pawned, Identity Leak Checker, or Firefox Monitor.

Google Chrome to block video ads

Google has developed a tool that lets you permanently mute Web sites that automatically play videos with sound.

It’s an extremely irritating problem, and the new option will be welcomed by the majority of internet users.

Videos – often ads – that play with sound can be distracting, especially if you’re trying to watch or listen to something at the time.

To turn one off, you usually need to stop what you’re doing, figure out which background tab it’s playing from and then scroll down the page to actually find it.

Google is only experimenting with the feature right now, according to Chromium evangelist François Beaufort, so it’s not currently available to Chrome users.

“This will give you more control about which website is allowed to throw sound at you automatically,” he said in a Google+ post.

You can, however, try it out in Chrome Canary, an experimental and unstable version of the browser.

By Aatif Sulleyman for The Independent 

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top