Here’s a change in Google’s Chrome browser that’s raising eyebrows: In 60 global markets, Chrome now includes the option of using pro-privacy competitor search engine DuckDuckGo.
The change, first spotted by TechCrunch, is written into Chromium 73, the recently released version of the Chromium engine that is the open source foundation of the Chrome browser as well as several other browsers.
It was initially a quiet addition with no announcement but the change has received a ton of attention in hours after it went live. A Google spokesperson explained that “starting Chrome M73, we have updated the list of default search engines available in Chrome settings. The new list is based on popularity of search engines in different locales, determined using publicly available data.”
Google’s move comes as privacy, regulation and antitrust criticism directed at Silicon Valley giants is reaching unprecedented levels from Washington D.C. all the way back to California itself.
In Europe, the situation is far beyond talk and proposals: Last year, antitrust regulators have already levied a record-setting $5 billion fine for monopolistic activity.
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission launched a new task force focused on the tech industry.
In an increasingly hostile environment, playing nice with competitors could be a way for Google to address the incoming criticism. For their part, the search engine competitors are happy to have been added.
“We’re glad that Google has finally recognized the importance of offering consumers a private search option in Chrome,” a DuckDuckGo spokesperson told Gizmodo.
At 11 years old, DuckDuckGo has 1 billion monthly searches, according to the company. No one outside of Google knows the exact number of searches the Mountain View giant handles but the number is in the trillions per year at least, according to a statement by Google in 2016.
The French pro-privacy search engine Qwant was also added in its home country of France. Qwant’s response went a few steps further than DuckDuckGo: