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South Korea Wants to Ban Apple and Google’s Exclusive Stores



Close-up shot of monitor screen with App Store and Google Play download buttons | South Korea Wants to Ban Apple and Google’s Exclusive Stores | featured

South Korea has had enough of Apple and Google’s store monopolies. Lawmakers expect to pass legislation this week sanctioning the two companies. It aims to ban the practice of requiring developers to use Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. 

RELATED: DOJ Files Antitrust Suit Against Google

South Korea First To Ban In-App Purchase Commissions

Earlier, a South Korean parliamentary committee voted to amend the Telecommunications Business Act. This is a major step in successfully preventing Apple and Google from exclusively dealing with software developers via their store apps.

It will also ban the tech companies from charging developers commissions on in-app purchases. This is the first move by a major economy to sanction tech companies who collect in-app purchase commissions.

The amendment to the act, also known as the Anti-Google Law, will come to a final vote in the South Korean parliament. It is scheduled for later this week, with Wednesday seen as the earliest date. 

However, a parliament official informed Reuters that they have yet to receive a request not to continue with the Wednesday vote. 

Global Criticism for Apple and Google

Criticisms over Apple and Google’s forced commissions not only came from South Korea but from all over the world. The major issue is that software developers are constrained to use the tech giant’s payment systems under a commission scheme. This commission can run up to 30% of the payments. 

Apple issued a statement Tuesday defending their App store. Passing the South Korean bill puts users who purchase digital goods at risk of fraud. This will also undermine privacy protections provided by Apple.

Also, doing so will hurt user trust in App Store purchases. Ultimately, this will lead to fewer opportunities for South Korean developers. Meanwhile, Wilson White, senior director of public policy at Google, also issued a statement.

He said the expedited vote didn’t give everybody enough time to analyze the legislation. In particular, they have yet to study the negative impact of the amendment on Korean developers and users. 

Work Outside The Store Apps

However, many legal experts believe that both Apple and Google can work with developers to solve the issue. They can partner with other companies to create secure payment methods outside of the App Store and the Play store. 

Lee Hwang, a Korea University School of Law professor in competition law thinks it can be done. “Google and Apple aren't the only ones that can create a secure payment system. I think it's a problem to try to inspire excessive fear by talking about safety or security about using different payment methods,” he said. 

Amendment Will Ban Forcing Payment Systems on Developers

Based on parliament records, the amendment proposes a ban on some practices of app store operators with dominant positions. This includes forcing payment systems on content providers. It also bans them from inappropriately delaying reviewing or deleting mobile content from app markets. 

The proposed ban also allows the government of South Korea to require an app market operator to protect the rights of users and prevent damage. It also calls the SK government to conduct probes on app store owners and mediate disputes regarding transactions in the stores. 

SImilar Bills Proposed in the United States

Google and Apple’s app store woes won’t end in South Korea. Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a similar bill against store app owners. This bill aims to rein in app stores that exert too much market control.

Watch Arirang News video reporting that South Korea will vote on a law to rein in Google and Apple's in-app payment systems:

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