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FTC vows to curb market power abuses by global tech giants

March 20, 2023 - 16:07 By Song Seung-hyun

Fair Trade Commission Chairman Han Ki-jeong talks during a special luncheon event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Monday.

Fair Trade Commission Chairman Han Ki-jeong on Monday vowed that the antitrust regulator will seek ways to protect Korean consumers from the possible negative influence of the EU’s new law targeting global big tech companies.

The EU’s Digital Market Act, which will come into force this year, aims to prevent global tech giants from abusing their market power and ensure a higher degree of competition. This law includes tighter restrictions on collecting data. If companies fail to comply with the DMA, they may face hefty fines.

“If big tech companies improve to conduct business fairly in EU countries and do not do the same in Korea, it could harm Korean consumers. We will seek for international cooperation to find ways to protect Korean consumers,” Han said at a special luncheon event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea at the Grand Hyatt Seoul.

The meeting aimed to introduce the FTC’s major policy initiatives in 2023 and encourage the free exchange of opinions on management difficulties and solutions. About 80 representatives from domestic and foreign companies, including the AmCham Chairman and CEO James Kim, and the chamber's board of governors attended the special meeting.

During the meeting, a Google Korea official expressed some concerns over Han's comments on issues related to the EU DMA and asked for further elaboration on the antitrust regulator's plan to protect Korean consumers and promote fair competition.

“We will not enforce anything on big tech firms. Instead of enforcing laws, we are considering some other measures to curb market power abuses,” Han said in response, adding that specific details have not been decided yet.

Regarding the violation of copyright for cartoons, which has recently gained attention following the death of the famous “Black Rubber Shoes” cartoonist Lee Woo-young earlier this month, Han explained that the FTC will monitor cases of copyright for secondary works more closely.

Han also touched on four main tasks of the FTC for this year: to create a market environment that facilitates innovative competition; to promote fair trading for SMEs and small businesses; to ensure better regulations for large business groups; and to create a trade environment that guarantees consumer rights and interests.

Founded in 1953, AmCham is the largest foreign chamber in Korea, comprising more than 800 member companies and affiliates with substantial participation in the Korean economy.