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Thursday, February 2, 2023

South Korea fines Google US$177 million for blocking Android customization

Seoul-South Korean antitrust regulators fined Google 207 billion won (US$176.64 million) because Google blocked a customized version of its Android operating system (OS), which was the US technology giant’s less than a month The second setback encountered in the country in the time.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday that Google’s contract terms with device manufacturers constitute an abuse of its dominant market position and restrict competition in the mobile operating system market.

Google said in a statement that it intends to appeal the ruling, saying it ignores the benefits of Android’s compatibility with other programs and undermines the advantages enjoyed by consumers.

KFTC Chairman Joh Sung-wook said in a statement: “The Korean Fair Trade Commission’s decision is significant because it provides an opportunity to restore future competitive pressures in the mobile operating system and application market.”

The antitrust regulator said this may be the ninth largest fine in its history.

KFTC said that Google allows device manufacturers to comply with the “Anti-fragmentation Agreement (AFA)” when signing key contracts for app store licensing with it, thereby hindering competition.

According to AFA, manufacturers cannot equip their phones with modified versions of Android, called “Android forks.” KFTC said this will help Google consolidate its dominant position in the mobile operating system market.

According to the ruling, Google is prohibited from forcing device manufacturers to sign AFA contracts, allowing manufacturers to use modified versions of the Android operating system on their devices.

KFTC stated that in one example, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. launched a smart watch with a customized operating system in 2013, but switched to a different operating system after Google deemed the move to violate AFA. Samsung Electronics declined to comment.

The fine was issued on the day the amendment to the Korean Telecom Services Law (commonly referred to as the “Anti-Google Law”) took effect.

The bill, passed in late August, prohibits app store operators such as Google from requiring software developers to use their payment systems. This requirement effectively prevents developers from charging commissions for in-app purchases.

Last year, the Indian antitrust agency ordered an investigation into allegations that Google abused its market position to promote its payment application and forced application developers to use its in-app payment system.

(1 U.S. dollar = 1,171.8500 won)

Author: Heekyong Yang


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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