Google fined $177M in South Korea for allegedly blocking other smartphone operating systems
A South Korean antitrust regulator on Tuesday issued a $176.64 million fine against Google, accusing the American tech company of abusing its market dominance.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) issued the fine against Google on Tuesday, arguing that its contract terms with device makers was abuse of its market dominance, The Associated Press reported. The KFTC said this fine may be the ninth-largest it has ever issued.
KFTC Chairwoman Joh Sung-wook said Google has tamped down competition for the past decade by forcing electronic partners to sign “anti-fragmentation” agreements that prevent them from installing modified versions of Google's operating system.
Joh pointed to Korean electronic companies like Samsung and LG that had to sign such agreements in order to build devices in advance of Google's new operating systems. According to the AP, she specifically noted how Samsung experienced a huge setback in 2013 when it was forced by Google to abandon its plans of using a modified Google operating system on its smartwatches.
In a statement to the The Hill, Google said it plans on appealing this fine, arguing that its agreements have spurred “incredible hardware and software innovation."
“This in turn has led to greater choice, quality and a better user experience for Korean consumers,” added Google. “KFTC’s decision released today ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC’s decision.”
This decision by South Korean authorities comes shortly after the country's government passed a law in August that prohibited companies like Google and Apple from forcing users to use their own in-app payment systems. This decision would allow developers to avoid having to pay the 30 percent commission with in-app purchases.
Apple claimed that this decision would put users at risk of fraud, undermine privacy and make managing purchases more difficult.
Updated at 11:02 p.m.