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    Google Adding Gemini Shortcut To Chrome Could Lead To Competition Issues In The Future

    On May 1, Google Chrome announced a new feature allowing users to interact with Gemini, Google’s proprietary AI chatbot directly, without needing to access the website. Revealed in a tweet posted on the 1st of May, Google explained how to use this feature: 

    • Step 1: Type “@” in the desktop address bar and select Chat with Gemini 
    • Step 2: Write your prompt
    • Step 3: Get your response on http://gemini.google.com

     


    MediaNama found out that this feature could be accessed on Canary, the developer version of Chrome. Typing ‘@’ in the address bar provides users with the option of directly searching bookmarks, history or tabs, a feature which is present even in the regular version of Chrome. However, Canary allows users to directly chat with Gemini with the ‘@gemini’ shortcut. Users can now type in a prompt into the address bar and have it answered directly by the AI. 

    While nifty, Chrome’s address bar can be used to access Gemini, essentially combining the two services—Google Chrome and Gemini—this might make it prone to facing possible challenges from competition authorities.

    The Indian Ministry for Corporate Affairs (MCA) released a draft Digital Competition Bill in March this year, which is aimed at curbing the market dominance of Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDE) that offer ‘core digital services’, which in Google’s case would be the Google search engine, alongside the video-hosting platform YouTube, the web browser Chrome and its advertising services. The bill places certain obligations on SSDEs such as prohibitions on bundling multiple services, self-preferencing and cross-mixing of data—all of which this Chrome feature risks violating.

    No tying or bundling:

    According to the draft bill, “a Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise shall not require or incentivise business users or end users of the identified Core Digital Service to use one or more of the Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise’s other products or services, or those of related parties or third parties with whom the Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise has arrangements for the manufacture and sale of products or provision of services, alongside the use of the identified Core Digital Service, unless the use of such products or services is integral to the provision of the Core Digital Service.”

    If Google Chrome is considered to be a core digital service, and Gemini as one of Google’s other offerings, then allowing users to access Gemini via the address bar could be considered as incentivising users to use Gemini alongside Google Chrome, thus ‘bundling’ the two services together.

    No self-preferencing:

    The draft states “a Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise shall not, directly or indirectly, favour its own products, services, or lines of business, or those of related parties or third-parties with whom the Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise has arrangements for the manufacture and sale of products or provision of services over those offered by third party business users on the Core Digital Service, in any manner.”

    While the bill doesn’t precisely define the term ‘favour,’ combining Gemini with Google Chrome may be considered as favouring Gemini over other AI chatbots like ChatGPT or Claude.

    No cross-mixing of data without consent:

    “A Systemically Significant Digital Enterprise shall not, without the consent of the end users or business users intermix or cross-use the personal data of end users or business users collected from different services including its Core Digital Service or permit usage of such data by any third party,” the draft says.

    Medianama has previously reported on Gemini’s data collection practices, which involve collecting four different types of data: conversations, location, feedback, usage information. The AI’s privacy policy also states, “Please don’t enter confidential information in your conversations [via Gemini Apps] or any data you wouldn’t want a reviewer to see or Google to use to improve our products, services, and machine-learning technologies.” Now that Google Chrome and Gemini are combined together, it raises questions about possible flows of data between the two services.

    While there has been no official confirmation of cross-mixing of data, the shortcut could lead to users revealing more information to Gemini. As an example, consider the many people who use Google to search for medical information. Now that Gemini is just a click away, people may be incentivised to ask their questions to the chatbot, thereby providing information about their health.


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    The post Google Adding Gemini Shortcut To Chrome Could Lead To Competition Issues In The Future appeared first on MediaNama.

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