Google has faced criticism and regulatory scrutiny in various parts of the world for its dominance in the search engine market, and South Korea is the latest country to take action against the tech giant. The country’s antitrust regulator, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), accused Google of using its dominant position in the mobile operating system market to stifle competition and prevent local rivals from developing their own operating systems.
The KFTC found that Google had required smartphone makers that use its Android operating system to sign contracts that prevented them from installing modified versions of the OS, known as “Android forks.” This effectively blocked local rivals from developing their own operating systems, as they were unable to access the Android platform and the millions of apps that are available on it.
In addition, the KFTC found that Google had restricted access to its application programming interfaces (APIs), which are essential for developers to create apps that work with the Android OS. This gave Google an unfair advantage over local rivals, as it effectively prevented them from developing apps that could compete with Google’s own services.
The $32 million fine is the latest in a series of regulatory actions against Google, which has faced criticism for its dominance in the search engine and online advertising markets. Last year, the European Union fined Google $5 billion for abusing its dominant position in the Android market, while the US Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company in October 2020.
Google has defended its actions, arguing that it has not violated any laws and that its contracts with smartphone makers are necessary to ensure the quality and security of the Android platform. However, the company has also said that it will comply with the KFTC’s decision and take steps to address the regulator’s concerns.
The fine is a reminder that even tech giants like Google are not immune from regulatory action, and that they must comply with antitrust laws and regulations in the countries where they operate. It also highlights the growing scrutiny of the tech industry, and the increasing awareness of the potential risks and harms of monopolistic behavior.