Google Quietly Adds DuckDuckGo To Chrome As Antitrust Scrutiny Grows


Chrome 73 for desktop recently launched with a variety of great new features and now there appears to have been at least one less reported inclusion too — the addition of DuckDuckGo as a default search engine option. The new option wasn't found in Google's reported changes but applies to over 60 global market regions. That includes the US, UK, and Canada.

Users who want to adjust the search engine option can find DuckDuckGo under the settings menu in the three-dot menu at the top-right-hand side of the UI. In "Settings," that's found under the "Search engine" subheading and can be changed using either the top, drop-down menu or by clicking "Manage search engines" and then clicking the three-dot menu next to the DuckDuckGo option. The "Make default" option will need to be clicked in the resulting menu.

Avoiding penalties


Google didn't advertise the addition of the option with the update of this release but that's not necessarily surprising, given the history between the two search providers.

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-heavy search engine that provides a diverse array of related options, the vast majority of which are turned on by default to protect the user. It's also one of the companies that publicly came out in favor of recent fines faced by Google over its apparent anti-competitive practices in Android.

The historic fine faced by Google amounted to approximately $5.05 billion in penalties after the European Commission determined that Google's promotion of its own applications — including search and Chrome — in Android was monopolistic. DuckDuckGo supported the decision with statements indicating that the fines were a long time coming since the behavior has been ongoing for years.


At the time of that fine, near the middle of 2018, the US-based search provider denied the allegations and planned to fight back against the EU-based decision.

That decision applied to Android but with this latest change to Chrome in desktop version 73, Google appears to be working to avoid future problems with regulators with regard to search engine options that are provided on its desktop solution.

There's no guarantee that will actually work since the company isn't exactly telling everybody about the change.


What exactly is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is, as already noted, a search engine alternative to Google search that focuses chiefly on privacy. That means it doesn't track a user's clicks or personal data and it doesn't store any private data either. It isn't as popular or widely known as Google, with 'only' around 800 million queries per day as of late 2018 — a 33-percent growth from the previous year.

DuckDuckGo's growth is further spurred on by its third-party mobile browser offering, which adheres to the same basic tenets, blocking cookies and other tracking components.


Google's decision to make the addition of DuckDuckGo as an option a quiet one may be somewhat understandable in light of the fact that advertising such as is in place in Google search is its primary money-making business. That's unlikely to sit well with those opposed to Google's practices though since it also means many users may not have noticed the buried option to change the default search engine to DuckDuckGo on their own.

It isn't immediately clear whether the addition will extend to Chromebooks when the update to Chrome 73 begins rolling out to that platform but there's a good chance the option will be available there as well.