Google hit with $177 million antitrust fine in South Korea

In what has become an all too familiar occurrence, Google has been hit with another antitrust fine over its Android ecosystem and how its dominance limits the growth of other players in the market.

The fine this time around was handed out by the South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), with a sum of $177 million being imposed.

According to Korean outlet Yonhap News, the KFTC has been looking into Google since 2016 over how it has limited Samsung from utilising other mobile operating systems.

More specifically it cites the anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA) that Google compels manufacturers to sign as severely hampering competition.

The KTFC did not stop there either, with it instructing Google’s executives in the region to take corrective steps over its antitrust practices. To that end, on top of the $177 million fine, Google will need to ban the signing of an AFA with manufacturers moving forward.

“We expect the latest measures will help set the stage for competition to revive in the mobile OS and app markets. This is also expected to help the launch of innovative goods and services in smart device markets,” the organisation said in a statement.

As expected Google says it plans to appeal the decision, noting that the KFTC has failed to recognise the many positives that the ecosystem provides as well.

“The KFTC’s decision released today ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC’s decision,” a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Like many other parts of the globe, it appears as if regulators are taking a harsher view of mobile ecosystem platforms and operators.

In the case of South Korea, the KFTC also confirmed recently that it is passing legislation to ensure app developers can use third-party payment options in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Locally, these operators have been able to shirk any probing, but the recent implementation of PoPIA could change all that.

[Image – Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash]


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