FTC antitrust investigators search company’s Seoul office
Google Inc. denied any alleged unfair business practices in Korea, the day after antitrust officials raided its Seoul offices on Tuesday.
The Fair Trade Commission stormed Google’s office as part of its probe into an allegation that the global tech giant requires smartphone manufacturers to include Google Search or its applications on Android-powered devices.
In April, the nation’s leading Internet portals Naver and Daum filed a complaint with the state-run antitrust regulator claiming that Google’s search engine is installed as a default navigation tool and it is impossible for users to switch to another option.
Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, however, denied the allegation even though it promised to cooperate with the investigation of Korean authorities.
“We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying by local media.
“Android is an open platform, and carrier and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones,” the spokesperson said, asking not to be named.
It was the third time that Google has been probed or raided by Korean antitrust authorities regarding its smartphone-related businesses.
Google is also currently under investigation by antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe.
As the investigation came after Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility in August, industry sources expected the worldwide regulatory pressure on the search giant would get more severe.
FTC chairman Kim Dong-soo also hinted at an investigation into the surprise takeover. “The issue would greatly affect the Korean economy,” he said.
“For now, we are collecting data but has yet to launch an official process as there has been no application made for the approval of the takeover deal,” Kim said recently.
Antitrust laws require companies to report their acquisition of a firm with assets worth 2 trillion won or more to the FTC within the period before acquiring the stocks, but after inking a deal.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com