Google's lawyers will definitely remember 2016 as not the best year they ever head. After facing accusations about anti-competitive practices related to its Search and Android business in Europe, Google has now also caught the eye of South Korea's chief antitrust regulator, Jeong Jae-chan. Speaking to journalists on Monday, the head of the Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has stated that his people will carefully examine all of the agreements Google made with Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in South Korea. Of course, FTC's main concern is that Google's contracts are damaging market competition as the Mountain View-based tech giant could potentially be using the dominant system of its Android OS to limit competition on other markets. Jeong Jae-chan refused to go into any specifics on Monday but promised that more information is bound to follow soon.
This isn't the first time that FTC took an interest into Google's practices. Two months ago, the agency already announced that it has started some preliminary digging into potential violations of its anti-competition laws. No details were given back then but considering Jae-chan's latest comments, it seems that the commission is now ready to open an official investigation seeing how there's specific protocol required to examine most of the aforementioned contracts so FTC can't keep digging into Google without making the entire affair official.
As for whom Google is facing against here, Jae-Chan Jeong is an FTC official of 22 years who has been heading the agency since December of 2014. He specializes in Korean competition law and is actually currently looking for a big win after being heavily criticized by the national media in recent months. Namely, it recently came to light that the FTC has lost numerous lawsuits and was forced to return close to a trillion won, i.e. approximately $900 billion to Korean firms which it has collected in penalties over the last five years. This obviously doesn't reflect well on the country's antitrust watchdog so it's not surprising that it's looking to make a serious statement of intent and there's hardly a bigger one than going after Google. Interestingly enough, Google is currently also doing some pressuring of its own in South Korea as the US tech giant is trying to get access to Korea's mapping data which the Far Eastern country is reluctant to give.