DuckDuckGo CEO says Google contracts have limited its search business

DuckDuckGo CEO says Google contracts have limited its search business

Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo Inc., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google’s exclusive deals proved to be an “obstacle” for DuckDuckGo to make browsers the default search engine for its private browsing modes, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg testified in federal court on Thursday.

DuckDuckGo, known for its privacy-focused search engine that competes with Google’s, had at one point promoted its search engine as the default in other browsers’ private browsing modes, Weinberg testified in a Washington, D.C. district court.

Google is accused by the Justice Department and a coalition of attorneys general of violating antitrust laws by using exclusionary agreements as the default search engine in browsers such as Apple’s Safari and on phones running Google’s Android operating system.

“Frankly, we thought it was a great pitch for the browsers,” Weinberg said during questioning by a Justice Department lawyer.

DuckDuckGo’s own research has found that many consumers are unaware that private browsing mode does not provide as much tracking protection as they would expect. Weinberg said the company presented this information to browser makers, showing that private browsing can mislead consumers and offered DuckDuckGo as a solution to this problem.

“We really took this pitch pretty far,” Weinberg said. Although interest was piqued, he said they “hit a roadblock” with the companies’ contracts with Google.

In the end, DuckDuckGo decided that “it was a quixotic exercise,” Weinberg said.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the statement.

WATCH: DOJ takes on Google in historic antitrust battle over search dominance

The U.S. Department of Justice is taking on Google in a historic antitrust dispute over its dominance in search