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Google Fined $177M In South Korea For Monopoly Over Android OS
By Ell Ko, 15 Sep 2021
Image via ReaLiia / Shutterstock.com
It was announced on Tuesday that a South Korean antitrust regulator has imposed a ₩207 billion (US$176.64 million) on Google.
On Tuesday, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) revealed that the company was abusing its dominant position in the market to block customized versions of its Android OS.
Google’s case had been under investigation since 2016. According to the KFTC, Google trapped its device makers into signing an “anti-fragmentation agreement” (AFA) alongside their app store licenses.
This AFA states that mobile phones wouldn’t be allowed to run modified versions of Android, which are otherwise known as “forks.” As a result, the tech giant could continue to retain its uncontested position in the market.
Device makers affected by this include some tech giants such as Samsung and LG.
The KFTC’s new ruling, alongside the hefty fine, will ensure that Google cannot make the device manufacturers sign AFA contracts, and will have to allow them to run their own modified versions of Android OS as they please.
Google’s fine was imposed on the day the Telecommunications Business Act came into effect in South Korea, which Reuters reports has been popularly nicknamed the “anti-Google law.”
This international new ruling ensures that app store operators, Google included, wouldn’t be able to force software developers to redirect customers through the OS’ payment systems, taking commission on every purchase.
In an email to the Associated Press, Google states that it will dispute this charge and claims that the KFTC is ignoring the fact that Android’s compatibility program has initiated “incredible hardware and software innovation, and brought enormous success to Korean OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and developers.”
This, it declares, gave Korean consumers “greater choice, quality and a better experience.” The decision to impose the fine “ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC’s decision.”
Kim Min-jeong, a KFTC official, said the amount was based on the revenue Google generated in South Korea from 2011 to this April. The finalized number, which will come in the next few months, might even be slightly higher, according to her.
[via The Associated Press, image via ReaLiia / Shutterstock.com]
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