Australian consumer watchdog to scrutinize internet search engines and generative AI use

The authority is seeking input from stakeholders to assess the impact on consumers and competition in Australia’s search market, especially focusing on the overseas introduction of choice screens and the use of generative AI in searches.

Australia flag is depicted on the screen with the program code

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced plans to investigate internet search engines and the growing use of generative AI in searches. This move comes in response to global regulatory changes and concerns over competition and search quality.

The ACCC seeks input from various stakeholders to understand the impact of these developments on consumers and competition in Australia’s search market.

Previous reports have highlighted Google’s dominance in the Australian search market, primarily due to its default presence on devices. 

The ACCC will also consider legislative reforms in other jurisdictions and the use of AI chatbots and social media services in searches. The investigation, part of a broader inquiry into digital platform services, will contribute to the ACCC’s forthcoming report.

Why does it matter? 

As digital technologies rapidly evolve, the ACCC launches a new inquiry into the shifting landscape of internet search engines. For instance, SOCi’s recent findings suggest a potential challenge to Google’s dominance, especially from younger users favouring social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok for search and discovery. Emerging threats to Google’s position, including generative AI technology like ChatGPT, are also noted. Google’s own AI solution, Gemini, has encountered issues with misinformation, prompting the company to announce plans to improve search result quality.