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Regulator to impose fines on Big Tech firms refusing probe

South Korea’s telecommunication regulator said on Wednesday that it will impose fines on companies refusing to comply with a probe into the violation of a revised law banning app store operators from forcing developers to use their own in-app payment systems.

The move is a follow-up measure to an enforcement decree of the Telecommunications Business Act that is aimed at curbing dominance of store operators, like Apple and Google.

Under the revision that went into effect last September, app store operators are banned from forcing developers to use their own in-app payment systems.

South Korea became the first country in the world to introduce such curbs on in-app billing policies of the tech giants, reports Yonhap news agency.

The move came amid growing global scrutiny of Google and Apple, which maintain a strong grip over mobile ecosystems, for requiring developers on their app stores to use their proprietary payment systems that charge fees of up to 30 per cent when users purchase digital goods within apps.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said it can impose fines on the app store operators every month based on their average daily sales until they submit relevant data for a probe.

Based on such submitted data, the KCC will determine the app store operators’ violations based on several criteria, including whether app developers are given the freedom to choose their preferred app payment system.

The KCC will also determine whether the app store operators cause harm to consumer benefit or impede fair competition.

“The KCC will be able to secure relevant data and conduct an inquiry into any violation through overhauling this system,” Han Sang-hyuk, chairman of the KCC, said in a statement.

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