South Korea warns Google, Apple of possible fines over apps marketing

South Korea’s telecommunications regulator said on Friday that Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple have abused their dominant app market position and warned of possible fines totalling up to $50.5 million.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said in a statement that the two tech giants forced app developers into specific payment methods and caused unfair delay in app review.

The KCC is notifying the companies for corrective action, and will deliberate on the fines, the statement said.

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“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,” Google said in a statement to Reuters.

Apple also issued a statement, saying: “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.”

In 2021, South Korea passed an amendment to the Telecommunication Business Act banning app store operators from forcing software developers to use their payments systems.

The KCC said that Google and Apple’s enforcement of certain payment methods, and Apple’s “discriminatory charging of fees to domestic app developers” is likely to undermine the law’s purpose of promoting fair competition.

After hearing from the companies, the regulator could decide to impose fines of up to 68 billion won ($50.47 million), including 47.5 billion won for Google and 20.5 billion won for Apple, KCC said.

($1 = 1,347.3200 won)

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