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US expresses concern over S. Korea’s act on unfair Google fees

US expresses concern over S. Korea’s act on unfair Google fees

Posted December. 15, 2020 07:49,   

Updated December. 15, 2020 07:49


The U.S. government has reportedly voiced its concern over the so-called “act on unfair Google fees” that is going through the South Korean parliament.

According to Rep. Jeon Jae-su of the Democratic Party of Korea and relevant ministries on Monday, the South Korean Embassy in the United States shared a summary of a phone call with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding Google’s App Store policies with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Science and ICT and Korea Communications Commission. Although the details of the classified document have not been published, the document is said to contain concerns of USTR. “The document says South Korea’s new bill targets a specific company,” said a source from the Democratic Party of Korea. “It says South Korea will be penalized if it becomes a trade issue.”

Google announced a new rule in September that requires all developers distributing Android software on the Google Play Store to use its in-app payment system, which takes a 30 percent fee from payments. The announcement has been met with strong criticism from the South Korean IT industry, which argues that the rule will hit South Korean developers who are heavily reliant on Google’s platform.

Such complaints have prompted National Assembly members of the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee to legislate to stop the implementation of the new rule, including a measure that restricts a platform from using its dominance to force a specific payment system on developers.

Both the ruling and opposition parties agreed on the need for such a bill until some members of the opposition party started taking a more cautious approach last month saying that there is a risk of violating the FTA between the United States and South Korea. The bill have failed to pass through the standing committee during the recent regular session. Google has taken a step back by delaying the introduction of the rule from January 2021 to late September.

Keun-Hyung Yoo noel@donga.com