Find Out 10 Principles for Fair Choice Screens

Find Out 10 Principles for Fair Choice Screens

By camilaforero

It is often quite difficult to change the gatekeeper’s default values when you have to choose the search engine and browser you want to use. However, we can find that thanks to the CEOs of DuckDuckGo and Ecosia, and the president of Qwant, we can review a set of common sense principles, which they published, to improve this online user experience and for companies, organizations from consumers and also regulators who have the power to create effective user choice screens, which can help you a lot in choosing your search engine and browser.

Open Letter from DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and Qwant

In order for users to empower themselves and also to enable competition in the browser and search engine markets, the tools that are very important are choice screens and effective switching mechanisms.

We find that the first to take an important first step by adopting the Digital Markets Law (DMA) has been the European Union (EU), since with this first step it manages to include obligations to implement said tools, the choice screens and effective change mechanisms. But despite this, the effectiveness of the EU mandates, and also all related regulatory efforts around the world, will have to depend on how the gatekeepers implement the changes to comply with these new rules.

In this case, many of the controlling companies might choose to evade their legal obligations, because they do not have strict adherence to the rules and clear principles that are necessary for fair election screens and also effective change mechanisms.

However, despite this, it can be found that there are ten essential principles for fair election screens and effective change mechanisms, which regulators can implement and also make it clear that their application must adhere to these essential principles for tools.

10 Principles

Free of charge:

Something that is quite important for the exchange mechanism or any election screen, is that it must be free for the participants and users.

Available as a prominent setting:

When users want to switch, the snap screens should be available at all times, not just displayed once upon onboarding, but always the snap screens should be available as a top level setting.

Periodically presented to users:

Also, keep in mind that the choice screens should be shown periodically to the users, for example, in the main updates of the users’ operating system. Still, this initial addition of the device is not the only time that users are going to change core services, but also major software updates can reset or even affect the search that is controlled by the guardian, in addition to the default settings of each user’s browser.

Effective across gatekeeper-controlled access points:

When the user choice decision is made, it should be applied to all access points controlled by the control company, for example if you have a search engine choice screen on a smartphone, in most cases the user’s decision should be applied to all the preset search entry points at once, be it for example the search widget on the home screen, or also the auxiliary search widgets, the default browser, even the assistant default, among other search entry points.

No technical preference given to an app:

For example, if the user deletes the default search or navigation application, the gatekeeper should not give itself or any other search engine or navigation application a “system” status that makes them impossible to uninstall, as this should bring up the appropriate choice screen.

Enable all-at-once defaults switching from apps and websites of other providers:

In case an application provides both services, a browser and a search engine, it is assumed that the user should be able to change all the default values for both services. Since these browser and search engine services are all access points controlled by the gatekeeper, which with a single click through a prompt from a competing application or website can change the default values.

Transparent user testing to achieve user-centric design:

It is important to note that competitors and trusted consumer organizations may have the opportunity to test proposed designs and provide feedback to ensure there are no obscure patterns. Therefore, the gatekeeper and the regulator must take due account of the comments, because they are part of a collaborative and iterative process.

Furthermore, it is very important that the design of the choice screen and the switching mechanism should make it easy for users to have a clear choice and unfair attempts to reverse consumer choices should also be prohibited.

Functional eligibility criteria:

A user having a search engine should not prevent applications from being displayed on browser choice screens, as many search engine applications are also full web browsers.

User-expected choices: 

There must be market diversity in the list of options on the choice screens, it must also be objectively determined by the best market share data. In addition, the main options that are expected by the user must be visible initially and randomly at the top.

Transparent dashboards for participants:

With a self-service dashboard, there should be data on the effectiveness of the choice screens, and also where businesses can see how many impressions and selections occurred on a daily basis.

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