South Korea’s telecommunications regulator said on Friday it seeks to slap up to 68 billion won ($50.42 million) in combined fines against Google and Apple for their violation of the country’s in-app payment laws.
In August 2022, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) launched a probe into Google Play and App Store for their enforcement of certain in-app payment methods and other irregularities against app developers.
Wrapping up the probe, the commission decided to impose a fine of 47.5 billion won on Google and 20.5 billion won on Apple based on the judgment that they violated the country’s revised Telecommunications Business Act by abusing their monopoly power to force local publishers to use specific billing systems and unfairly postponing due app review, reports Yonhap news agency.
The commission also found that Apple’s policy imposing fees for domestic app developers constitutes a discriminatory act.
The KCC called on the two companies to implement corrective measures, saying that their practices are a “grave issue” as it could highly likely hamper fair market competition.
The commission plans to finalise the fine after listening to the opinions of the companies and going through due deliberation procedures.
In 2021, the National Assembly passed a law that bans app store operators from forcing in-app payment systems on developers, making South Korea the first country in the world to introduce such curbs on in-app billing policies of Apple and Google.
“Since the start of the fact finding investigation in August 2022, we have worked closely with KCC to explain how we are complying with the new law whilst ensuring that through our alternative billing, we continue to provide a safe and high quality experience for all,” Google said in a statement.
“What KCC has shared today is the ‘pre-notice’ and we will carefully review and submit our response. Once the final written decision is shared with us we will carefully review to evaluate the next course of action,” it added.
Apple refuted the commission’s conclusions, stressing that it has long worked closely with local app developers and played a role in building a sound local app ecosystem in South Korea.
“We disagree with the conclusions made by the KCC in their Examiner’s Report, and believe the changes we have implemented to the App Store comply with the Telecommunications Business Act. As we have always done, we will continue to engage with the KCC to share our views,” Apple said in a release.
“Apple has a great deal of respect for Korea’s laws and a strong history of collaboration with the country’s talented app developers, having helped build a vibrant local app ecosystem in the country that supports more than 18,000 developers with tools, resources, access to 175 storefronts globally, and a newly-opened Apple Developer Academy in Pohang,” it added.
(With inputs from IANS)