Google has recently announced that it is conducting tests on some of its key services, including Search, the Chrome browser, and the Android operating system. These tests come as a response to the European Union’s (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA), which designates Google as a “gatekeeper” and imposes new regulations on its core platform services. In this article, we will explore the changes Google is making in order to comply with the EU antitrust rules.

One of the changes that Google is introducing on Android is a new browser choice screen that appears during initial device setup, allowing users to select between different search engines. This feature is similar to the search engine choice screen that Google already offers. The roots of this choice screen can be traced back to a €4.3 billion fine imposed by the EU in 2018 for antitrust violations related to Android. Additionally, Google’s Chrome browser will also have a choice screen for search engines, encouraging users to choose alternatives to Google Search. These changes will be implemented on devices purchased in the European Economic Area after March 6th.

In an effort to address previous issues with how it handles price comparisons, Google is testing changes to search results for shopping-related queries in Europe. The aim is to prioritize links to price comparison sites rather than individual businesses or products. This approach is seen as a response to EU regulators fining the company €2.42 billion in 2017 for giving its comparison shopping service an “illegal advantage” through its search engine dominance. As part of these changes, Google will also remove the Google Flights widget, which displays flight times and prices.

The changes being tested by Google align with the DMA’s rules regarding self-preferencing, which prohibit gatekeepers from favoring their own services over third-party rivals on their platforms. The DMA also includes regulations on interoperability and the removal of preinstalled software. In addition to the changes mentioned above, Google plans to enable European users to have more control over the data shared between its services such as YouTube, Chrome, and Google Play. These changes were previously announced in a support page published last week. Moreover, Google is modifying its “Google Takeout” service, which allows users to download their data, to comply with the DMA’s data portability rules.

Google is not the only major tech company affected by the DMA. Last September, six gatekeepers, including Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft, and Google, were designated by the EU. Some of these companies, like Apple, Meta, and TikTok, have contested their designations in an attempt to minimize the impact of the rules on their platforms, such as the App Store and messaging services. While Google intends to comply with the regulations, it expresses in its blog post that it is not entirely satisfied with the DMA. Oliver Bethell, Google’s legal director, states that the new rules involve difficult trade-offs, even though the company supports many of the DMA’s goals concerning consumer choice and interoperability.

In preparation for the EU’s tough new antitrust rules coming into effect in March, Google is conducting tests on its core services, including Search, Chrome, and Android. The changes aim to comply with the DMA, which designates Google as a gatekeeper and enforces regulations on how it operates. From implementing choice screens on Android and Chrome to prioritizing price comparison sites in search results, Google is making adjustments to address the DMA’s rules on self-preferencing and improve interoperability. While the company supports the DMA’s ambitions, it acknowledges the difficult trade-offs involved. As the DMA unfolds, it remains to be seen how these changes will impact Google’s services and the broader tech landscape in the EU.

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