Google has undermined competition, says the South Korean cartel leader

South Korea’s antitrust chief said Thursday the agency believes U.S. search giant Google has undermined competition, adding that the agency plans to bring a case to its review board this year.

The U.S. government filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, and the company is increasingly criticized by some South Korean lawmakers who accuse it of abusing its dominant position.

Joh Sung-wook, head of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), said he was investigating allegations that Google is restricting competition in the mobile application and operating system market. The KFTC plans to send any of these cases to the advisory committee by the end of this year, without specifying which one.

“When the KFTC deals with Google, there is a law that hinders competition,” Joh told the legislature in an annual parliamentary review.

The committee will make a final decision on whether any law has been violated and could penalize the company, order corrective action, or initiate law enforcement.

Google could not be reached immediately for comment.

Google is under investigation because allegedly local smartphone makers like Samsung were prevented from using other operating systems and developers were forced to only publish their games on the Google Play Store, according to an agency official and a legislative document.

According to a blog post by a Google representative, South Korea tops the list for app revenue and the average number of apps installed per year thanks to the world’s most advanced mobile infrastructure.

In the home market of Android cell phone manufacturers Samsung and LG, the Google Play Store in South Korea had sales of nearly KRW 6 trillion (around Rs.389 billion) in 2019.

Jo also said the agency was investigating Google’s plan to charge 30 percent commissions on in-app purchases made through its application store.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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