Google is facing rising legal challenges from global regulators who accuse the tech giant of operating an illegal monopoly of its search and digital advertising businesses. One of its most well-known rivals is claiming that the tech giant is manipulating browser extensions to promote its products and curb competitors, adding a new wrinkle to the antitrust debate and increasing calls for new regulation.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, whose company provides a competing search engine that promotes privacy protections, said during an interview Tuesday, Jan. 11, that Google is using scheming design features called “dark patterns” to trick users into quitting opposing products.
According to DuckDuckGo, Google for years has used deceptive notifications to bait users into disabling its competitor’s browser extensions and to deter them from changing their default search engines on its web browser, Chrome. Weinberg added that Google in August 2020 adjusted the prompts to openly bump users away from jumping ship.
The changes include calling for 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 noted that the subtle tweaks have produced a big impact.
Since Google implemented the changes, DuckDuckGo said it has suffered a 10 percent drop in how many new users it has been able to keep on its services on Chrome. DuckDuckGo added that has translated to hundreds of thousands of new users lost.
This is the first time the company is publicly speaking out about how the practice has affected its business, including what it says are millions in potential lost income 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.
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 fret “when they download an extension that unexpectedly changes these settings without their knowledge.”
“This issue has been well-documented for a long time and is why we have long and 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, McAlister added.
Capitol Hill bipartisan antitrust legislation
Weinberg said he hopes that by speaking out about Google’s tactic, it will bolster calls for bipartisan antitrust legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill to ban major platforms from prioritizing their own products and hurting their rivals. (Related: How to avoid Google surveillance and protect your personal data.)
The proposals are just some of the many bills aimed at what U.S. lawmakers say are anti-competitive abuses by companies like Google. But the bills, filed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. David Cicilline, boast broad support from Democrats and Republicans, making them among the most threatening for Silicon Valley titans and they are seen as bellwethers for the bigger antitrust effort.
Weinberg stated the dip in user retention through their extension on Chrome, which was earlier unreported, is one of the most direct pieces of evidence they have observed about how Google’s policies have harmed their business.
“I think it really helps to make it concrete and show some very specific examples of where things are happening,” Weinberg said during a 30-minute video interview.
And it is a finding that could also give as fodder for state and federal enforcers as they move ahead with their antitrust lawsuits against the tech giant.
The Department of Justice in October 2020 filed a huge 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 by filing a separate antitrust complaint against the tech titan. Google has disputed accusations that it stifles competition, saying that the lawsuits are false.
DuckDuckGo update blocks Google Chrome’s FLoC
DuckDuckGo had earlier released an update to its existing Google Chrome browser extension, which it says will prevent a new tracking technology in the browser.
The extension blocks Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC, a feature Google is testing that tracks Chrome users by distributing them into groups based on their interests and demographics.
Google said that it will stop using third-party cookies and block other companies from using them in Chrome. Those cookies are the small files that appear in your browser to let companies know about your online activities as you go from one site to another.
Google added that it rolled out FLoC as a way for the Chrome browser to collect the information needed to target consumers with personalized ads once third-party cookies are eliminated.
Privacy advocates welcomed the end of third-party cookies because it halts one of the main ways consumers are monitored by a wide brand of companies, but they argued that the move removes one privacy problem by introducing a new one.
The group said Google will continue tracking consumers although in a slightly more discreet way, and the change will likely consolidate more data in Google’s hands.
Watch the video below to know how to protect your privacy from Google.
This video is from the Heaven Reigns channel on Brighteon.com.
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ABC’s Hostin: Republicans Are Treating Biden Like a Black President
ABC legal analyst Sunny Hostin said Thursday on ABC’s “The View” that Republicans treated President Joe Biden like a black president.
Hostin said, “There are things that he has not gotten credit for, like he’s inherited this pandemic from the Trump administration. It was badly handled. He was able to pass a 1.9 trillion dollar relief package which a majority of Republicans voted against. That’s something that he gets credit for. I think he also gets credit for his incredibly diverse judicial nominations. I think there has been about 41 federal judges. Those are lifetime appointments.”
She continued, “I think where he hasn’t done well is basically delivering federal policy in favor of the people who put him in the White House, and that is communities of color. We didn’t see any movement on voting rights. We didn’t see any movement in police reform.”
Hostin added, “The infrastructure was a leaning-into white independence, and I think it was a leaning into white moderates, but the bottom line is, those aren’t the folks who really took him over the finish line. That is not the Democratic base. No Democratic president has made it into the White House without the support of the black community. The black community now, voters 50 and over that are registered, there’s been a 36-point drop in the net approval. What I took away was he said something like I had no idea that my Republican friends would do this. Well, he’s governing like it’s the 1990s. It’s 2022. He sat for eight years next to a black president yet didn’t think he would be treated like one, and that is what he is being treated like.”
Follow Pam Key On Twitter @pamkeyNEN
Behar: ‘Dense’ Biden Thought Other White Privileged Senators Would Work with Him
Joy Behar told her co-hosts Thursday on ABC’s “The View” that President Joe Biden was “dense” for thinking his fellow “white privileged” senators would work with him.
Whoopi Goldberg said, “Part of the problem for Joe is none of us, none of us ever anticipated we would be sitting in front of senators and congresspeople who are denying the fact that someone won an election. I never saw that before. I don’t think it occurred to him that would ever be Republicans who would go that far to say this was a lie. I think a lot of this, he thought, you know, we’ll beat each other up as we have in the past. This is a whole new group.”
Behar said, “But, Whoopi n the ’90s Newt Gingrich, had a contract on America.”
Ana Navarro said, “With America.”
Behar shot back, “I like to say it was on America. Then you have Mitch McConnell say that his whole idea going forward with Obama was to make sure he was a one-term president. Then he said about Biden, we’re going to obstruct, and we’re not going to let him do anything he wants to do. So I mean, how dense was Biden really in these instances? You’re a white privilege senator in the United States Congress, so you believe other white privilege guys will work with you, but they won’t, and they don’t.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
Breitbart News Daily Podcast Ep. 55: The Hits Just Keep on Comin’: Filibuster Stays, Joe’s Press Conference Flop; Guests: Jack Posobiec, Rep. Kat Cammack
Brandon met the media yesterday and whoa… not a joke! And not his best effort. That goes for the majority of the media in the East Room too. Joey tried for almost two hours to defend his first-year record, and then he officially lost his voting rights push in the Senate. What a day. Our guests Human Events Senior Editor Jack Posobiec and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) join Breitbart’s Jerome Hudson to break down President Biden’s press conference.
The Breitbart News Daily Podcast runs Monday through Friday as a “Director’s Cut” of the SXM Patriot radio show. Hosted by Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, you’ll hear Alex’s take on the big political stories, interviews with various newsmakers, and the Patriot “Caller of the Day.”
SUBSCRIBE for free by clicking your preferred podcast platform below.
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