According to CNET, Google faces the “maximum potential penalty” for allegedly obstructing South Korea’s antitrust investigation against the company. Korean officials “raided” Google’s Seoul offices last Fall in connection with an investigation into whether Google was acting in an anti-competitive way toward home-grown Korean search/portal sites on Android devices. (It wasn’t the first time for such a “raid” of Google’s offices in Korea.)
According to the CNET article Korean official Kim Dong-soo asserted that Google has obstructed his agency’s investigation “by deleting key files from PCs and asking its employees to telecommute from home.” Google has denied obstructing the inquiry and pledged cooperation with Korean government officials.
In April of last year, NHN Corp. (Naver) and Daum Communications filed antitrust complaints with the South Korean equivalent of the US Fair Trade Commission. The complaints claim that Google is blocking them from putting their search applications on Android phones in South Korea.
NHN/Naver and Daum control roughly 90 percent of the South Korean PC search market between the two companies. Google has less than 5 percent and is using Android as part of a strategy to grow market share. Reportedly about 70 percent of the smartphones sold in South Korea are Android handsets. And South Korea’s Samsung has emerged as Google’s premier Android partner, dominating global sales of Android devices.
South Korea has historically been very aggressive in various legal actions against Google. During the Google WiFi-personal data collection scandal South Korean police sought to file criminal charges against Google executives.
- Google Korea Raided By Korean Fair Trade Commission
- Antitrust Trouble For Android In South Korea
- South Korea May Arrest Google Execs Over WiFi Data Collection
- Police Raid Google’s Korean Office Over Location Data
- Should Korean Search Engine Naver Worry About Local Competitors Or Google?