back to article Google on trial: Feds challenge deals that set your web search defaults

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has used the first week of its much-anticipated competition case against Google to argue that the search ads giant violated antitrust law and stifled competition to maintain its market leadership. The government complaint [PDF], initially filed in October 2020 and amended [PDF] the following …

  1. FF22

    The end of Firefox

    If search engine presets in browsers will be illegal, that will be the end of Mozilla and Firefox, as >99% of all revenues fo the former is from Google - or whatever search engine pays it for being the default. Now,

    Mozilla could still earn some money through what's in essence search referral royalties (unless that's also plain out outlawed), but once it can not charge search engines directly for being the default, and the choice will lay with the user, the searches themselves will be worth a lot less, and Mozilla will only earn a fraction of what it does now.

    Also, of course "the end" only means "as we know it", and that Mozilla will most likely change its business model, and will most likely become itself a kind of "ads dealer" or "ads marketplace", and will sell the ads it shows in the browser directly.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The end of Firefox

      > end of Mozilla and Firefox

      And nothing of much value was lost...

      Considering the atrocious pile of UI fads and removed features that is the current Firefox, I'll not be crying.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: The end of Firefox

        Only two things - Apple being allowed to ban other browser engines and the existence of Firefox - stand in the way of Google controlling 100% of the web client market (since Edge is a Chrome clone)

        Do you want a company that's as dominant on the server side of the web as they are to also have complete control over the client side, without any checks upon their power? Do you want to go back to the "best viewed in IE6" days, only now for Chrome, without any way for competitors to ever dislodge them?

        1. Ozan

          Re: The end of Firefox

          Remember Microsoft actually stopped development of IE6 when they conquared the browser market.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: The end of Firefox

            Google won't stop development of Chrome, they'll add more features to enable more tracking. Google account login, Privacy sandbox, web attestation...

            1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

              Re: The end of Firefox

              So, nothing of use to the end-user?

              1. DS999 Silver badge

                Re: The end of Firefox

                Where do the needs of the end user enter into it when a monopolist is gonna monopoly?

        2. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: The end of Firefox

          Go back? More than 50% of the sites I have to use aren't fully usable in Firefox.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The end of Firefox

          " Do you want to go back to the "best viewed in IE6" days, only now for Chrome, without any way for competitors to ever dislodge them?"

          Too late, we already have that. All of that.

          *Only* Chrome is meaningful when anyone makes web pages and almost any page is designed for mobile phones (because gazillion people own those?) and a PITA to use on a computer. Most won't work at all if you use anything else than Chrome: Log is full of Javascript errors and page doesn't work.

          Not only that: You get messages like "Best viewed with Chrome or Edge", meaning it does not work with anything else.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: The end of Firefox

            I use Firefox on Linux for all my browsing (Safari on iOS for mobile browsing which I do a lot less of) and I rarely see any issues. I don't recall ever seeing a "best viewed with Chrome or Edge" but I probably just don't pay attention to little fluff like that so maybe I missed it.

            How old is the version of Firefox you're using if you are having all these problems? I don't see 'em.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Re: The end of Firefox

        We used to be able to set browser defaults in Windows. Mine is set to Brave, but whenever I click a link in a MS program like Outlook or Word, MS Edge opens.

        Your freedom of choice is subject to MS approval apparently. You didn't really want to open Brave. You know deep down you wanted to open Edge instead. (Followed by high pitched, maniacal laughter and thunderclaps.)

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: setting browser defaults

          "Mine is set to Brave, but whenever I click a link in a MS program like Outlook or Word, MS Edge opens."

          You're welcome :)

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge

            Re: setting browser defaults

            Here we all are blasting Google for bribing its way into the default browser spot, yet somehow Microsoft gets away with forcing itself on users, not even giving them the option of using their browser of choice, unless they resort to third-party hacks.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: resorting to hacks

              Theoretically you *should* be able to set a different browser to handle Edge requests, the protocols are shown as accessible in [new Windows 10] Settings / Apps / Default Apps / Choose default apps by protocol.

              But it seems that Firefox, for example, doesn't show up as an option for any current Edge choice. I am unsure if this is a Microsoft issue - they are blocking the changes - or a Mozilla issue - they aren't creating compatibility for the protocol links. The third-part app fixes the protocol link compatibility, allowing third-party browsers to show up as valid options in the protocol selector, so it seems that MS didn't crush the option, it just seems (from the outside) that A can't link to B to allow valid user choices. I don't know who to blame.

    2. Jamesit

      Re: The end of Firefox

      Google needs other browsers to avoid being a monopoly in the browser market.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: The end of Firefox

        They don't care. They'll just use the same argument they are pushing in court right now in the FTC lawsuit about Google search. They are claiming it is dominant because it is the best, and that's also why Apple and Firefox choose to make it the default search in exchange for huge cash payments.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: The end of Firefox

      Mozilla might cease to be, but I suspect Firefox will continue on as a volunteer driven effort no matter what. It started out life as a single person who stripped out everything except the browser from the old Mozilla suite (now known as Seamonkey) and there's still likely enough interest to keep it going. Releases may become a bit slower, but they'll keep coming.

  2. Falmari Silver badge

    Respect Google's privacy

    From the article "The Justice Department wants more documents to be available; Google unsurprisingly would like its privacy to be respected."

    Sod Google's privacy, they don't respect our privacy so why should theirs be respected.

  3. Wade Burchette

    Default search engine

    From my experience, only two things change the default search engine in a browser: Malicious add-ons and inferior antivirus products that won't stop annoying you to change to their "safe search".

    There are exceptions. I have seen a few change to Bing on Chrome and a few install the duckduckgo privacy add-on. But most people don't even go into the settings. They don't know Edge starts when the computer starts even though you did not give it permission to and they also don't know Chrome now sells your browsing history to advertisers. They don't take any steps to reclaim their privacy because they don't know. The ignorance plays into Big Greed's hands. The proper solution would be to force Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc to require people to opt-in to be tracked, never opt-out.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: Default search engine

      Opt-in? Are you out of your mind? Let the great unwashed have a choice?

    2. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Default search engine

      The proper solution would be to force Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc to require people to opt-in to be tracked, never opt-out.

      I'm pretty sure that's already the case in EU with the GDPR. If you open an incognito window and try a Google Search, the first thing that you see is a banner asking you to accept or reject cookies.

  4. Kev99 Silver badge

    In the US the one side will do nothing that could possibly interfere with their gravy trains or billionaire lover boys.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is throwing money away, how strange

    It seems strange to me that Alphabet, having the superior product that everyone will of course choose, elects to needlessly give money to other companies in order to have their search engine be selected as the default.

    Since these deals, seemingly according to Alphabet themselves, don't have any effect and people always flock to the best choice, rather than just sticking with whatever is default, it really strikes me as quite peculiar.

    Must be their way of giving alms to other companies...?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using Google search as a default is fine by me.

    It's that Microsoft defaults to bing and edge that grinds my gears. Number of times I've failed to find something but pop the exact same query into Google for instant results is staggering (really reluctant to change these settings on work managed computers, even though I'm sure it's fine, else it's have been locked down)

    I hate monopolistic abuse but do like Google search enough that when it's not the default it's switched over in short order on my own systems.

    Microsoft do the same thing but really do have vastly inferior product.

    1. myhandler

      I hate infinite scroll on Google desktop search, I hate it with a vengeance.

      There's an option to disable it but it doesn't bring back paginated results.

      So I've been trying DDG and even Bing - but they aren't any better as they lack verbatim search.

      Bing results are very odd too.

      Done up like kippers by Google we are.

  7. aerogems Silver badge

    If it were the best

    Why does Google need to pay everyone millions of dollars (in the case of Apple, I think they literally pay them a billion dollars) to be the default? If it were truly the best, wouldn't device makers set it as the default for free?

  8. katrinab Silver badge

    There is this little-known obscure desktop operating system called Windows, where Google isn't the default search engine. But most people still choose to install Chrome on it rather than use the bundled web-browser.

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