The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opened a public consultation seeking feedback on how the default settings and pre-installation of search services and web browsers impacts consumer choice.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “We know that, in general, setting a default option substantially increases the likelihood that that consumers and businesses will stick with that option”, which can reduce choice and competition.
He added it is interested in how the design of user interfaces on devices, such as search bars, and the steps required for a consumer to change a default search setting can affect how they use the services.
An ACCC report on digital platforms found the Google Chrome browser is pre-installed on nearly all Android devices and Google Search was the default option on the browser along with Apple’s Safari, making it the default search on more than 95 per cent of mobile devices.
It also noted substantial payments are made by Google to Apple covering its search tool on Safari.
Sims stated it also will look at competition in the supply of web browsers in Australia and the links between search services, web browsers, operating systems and devices. “The relationships between suppliers, through vertical integration or contractual arrangements, may impact the supply of search services and browsers to Australians.”
Input on the consultation is due by 15 April, with ACCC planning to compile a report for Australia’s government by end-September.
It explained the so-called choice screen report will the third in a series the government requested in February 2020 as part of a five-year inquiry into the supply of digital platform services.
In 2018, the ACCC proposed creating a new regulatory body to monitor the impact Google and Facebook’s dominance of digital platforms has on search and advertising markets.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back