Last month the European Union started an antitrust investigation of Google in regards to the company’s online advertisement business, or Google AdWords to be precise. More recently and according to a Yonhap report passed along by South Korean media outlets, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is now investigating Google over allegations of pushing its Android operating system upon local smartphone manufacturers.
This is the second time in a week that the South Korea's FTC has reached the headlines, and as some readers are aware, a few days ago the South Korean Fair Trade Commission revealed that it may issue a near $900 million fine to Qualcomm for anticompetitive business practices. Assuming that today’s reports are correct, it appears that the FTC has also started a new investigation targeting Google’s business practices in South Korea. However, it should be noted that this isn’t the first time the FTC has conducted an investigation of Google in regards to actions that may have been against the principles of fair trade. Several years ago Google was accused of restricting market competition by forcing smartphone makers to preload Android OS onto their products, but after a two-year investigation, the FTC eventually cleared the charges. However, it would appear that the FTC has now kicked off a second investigation of Google, for the same reasons as before, i.e. the idea that Google is preventing South Korean smartphone makers from adopting other operating systems besides Android. Considering the fact that previous investigations have been carried over periods of time longer than a year, it may take a while before we can conclude whether or not the FTC will issue a fine to the search engine giant for unfair business practices.
Although this isn’t related to the story at hand, Google’s parent company – Alphabet Inc. – has also challenged the South Korean government a couple of months ago in May, on account that the South Korean national-security laws are too restrictive and hinder the company’s Google Maps services. True enough, there are numerous Google Maps services we may take for granted, that aren’t available in South Korea. The list includes services such as 3D maps, walking, cycling, and driving directions, car navigation, real-time traffic, and indoor maps.