South Korea to investigate app store operators over alleged in-app payment violations

The 3D printed logos of Apple and Google are pictured on a keyboard in front of binary code in this illustration taken September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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SEOUL, Aug 9 (Reuters) – South Korea’s telecoms regulator said on Tuesday it plans to launch an investigation into app store operators such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Alphabet’s Google and One Store on alleged violations of the Integrated Payments Act.

According to the law, potential fines for violations could reach 2% of the average annual income of related business practices. The regulator did not specify the scale of possible fines in this case.

Under the law passed last year and in effect since March, major app store operators such as Google and Apple are prohibited from forcing software developers to use their payment systems. Read more

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The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said in a statement that it had conducted an inspection since May 17 to determine whether Google, Apple and One Store had violated the rules and determined that all three could have done so.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said, “We have worked closely with government stakeholders and our developer community to expand user choice in Korea under the new law, while continuing to ensure that we can invest in the ecosystem and provide a safe and high quality experience for all.

“As we have done at every step of this process, we will continue to cooperate with the KCC.”

Apple and One Store were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

The KCC added that it plans to take strict measures such as remedial orders or impose fines if the investigation uncovers prohibited activities.

Prohibited acts include app market operators unfairly delaying the review of mobile content or denying, delaying, restricting, removing or blocking the registration, renewal or inspection of mobile content that uses third-party payment methods.

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Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Lance B. Holton