A group of tech companies, publishers, and activist groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and DuckDuckGo are backing a new standard to let internet users set their privacy settings for the entire web.
“Before today, if you want to exercise your privacy rights, you have to go from website to website and change all your settings,” says Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine.
That new standard, called Global Privacy Control, lets users set a single setting in their browsers or through browser extensions telling each website that they visit not to sell or share their data. It’s already backed by some publishers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times, as well as companies including Automattic, which operates blogging platforms wordpress.com and Tumblr.
Advocates believe that under a provision of the California Consumer Privacy Act, activating the setting should send a legally binding request that website operators not sell their data. The setting may also be enforceable under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the backers of the standard are planning to communicate with European privacy regulators about the details of how that would work, says Peter Dolanjski, director of product at DuckDuckGo. At the moment, the official specification of the standard specifies that it’s in an experimental stage and “currently not intended to convey legally binding requests,” but that’s expected to change as legal authorities and industry groups have time to react to the standard and put it into place across the web, Dolanjski says.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time for them to make the modifications and all that,” he says.
If it becomes widely accepted and helps prevent website operators and companies from building cross-site profiles of their users, the new standard could
Microsoft’s Bing search engine has beaten out competitor DuckDuckGo and will now be offered as an option for Android users during setup in select European countries, according to the results of Google’s most recent default search engine auction. DuckDuckGo, previously the most frequently offered alternative, was not pleased, and the company slammed Google’s auction process as pay-to-play.
“This EU antitrust remedy is only serving to further strengthen Google’s dominance in mobile search by boxing out alternative search engines that consumers want to use and, for those search engines that remain, taking most of their profits from the preference menu,” DuckDuckGo wrote in a blog post published yesterday. “The auction model is fundamentally flawed and must be replaced.”
Google hosts the auctions in response to a landmark 2018 European Union antitrust ruling, which fined the dominant search giant a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) after finding Google was illegally tying its Chrome browser and Google Search tools to the Android operating system in various ways. Google now displays four search engine options randomly on a per-device basis if you set up a new Android phone purchased in a EU member state, but the ones displayed depend on companies bidding against one another for a right to appear in the list based on how much they’re willing to pay Google each time a user selects their respective platform.
The auction is held quarterly, with the results of the first one taking effect back in March. The results of this most recent auction will take effect for the months of October to December. Competing search engines Bing (13 countries), DuckDuckGo (eight countries), Info.com (all 31 countries), GMX (16 countries), PrivacyWall (22 countries), and