Mozilla, the non-profit owner of the Firefox browser, has accused Google, Microsoft and Apple of “displaying self-preference” and inducing consumers to use their own browser.
Examples of consumer harm resulting from this self-preferred behavior include limited or frustrated choice, lower quality, less innovation, poor privacy and unfair contracts, Mozilla said.
The report comes at a time when “self-preferences” remain a hot topic in the technology regulation space; the British competition watchdog has published a final report (opens in new tab) highlighting “significant concerns” about Google and Apple’s market dominance.
What does the report claim?
Mozilla’s report accuses the major tech companies of a wide variety of malpractice cases.
These include banning independent app discovery, mentioning how some companies bundle their respective browsers with their operating systems and set them as the operating system default in the main screen or dock position.
“For many people, this placement is sufficient and they will not see or take any additional steps to discover alternatives,” the report said.
Mozilla also called on some major tech companies to ban independent app adoption, citing the lack of settings to switch from Safari as the default browser until 2020.
The report went on to highlight how Safari still cannot be uninstalled from iOS.
In addition, the report accused major tech companies of ignoring independent app adoption, calling it “even more blatant than banning competitive software adoption.”
Mozilla claimed this has been the case on Microsoft Windows computers for a number of years,” says consumers have faced increasingly aggressive practices, some aimed at reversing their decisions to use non-Microsoft software, for example. canceling the default browser choice and returning to Edge”.
“Consumers should be in control of their online experiences and be able to choose what software to use, including anything other than what the operating system provider offers,” said a Mozilla spokesperson. “People shouldn’t be fighting with operating systems that constantly harass, confuse and roll back the preferences of their own software.”
“Browser Wars” are nothing new, in the late 90s Microsoft’s Internet Explorer famously pushed Netscape’s Navigator out of business.
Google is an example of a major tech company that has responded to these accusations of throwing its weight and the threat of antitrust law.
In a blog post (opens in new tab)Google’s president of global affairs Kent Walker said potential antitrust rules would “impose one set of rules for US companies and give foreign companies a pass” and that they would “give the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies unprecedented power over consumer product design.”
Walker added: “All of this would be a dramatic reversal of the approach that has made the US a global technology leader, risking relinquishing America’s technology leadership and threatening our national security, as bipartisan national security experts have argued.” warned”.