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Korea regulators raided Google Seoul office Tuesday
|08 сентября 2011|
The Korean Fair Trade Commission raided the Seoul office of Google Inc. due to allegations of unfair trade in South Korea's mobile search engine market, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said, the latest in a series of probes into Google's operations globally.The person declined to provide further details of the raid, conducted Tuesday. It comes after local Internet portal operators NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp. on April 15 filed a complaint with the FTC against Google for allegedly limiting their access to smartphones using the Android operating system.
Daum and NHN, which owns search portal Naver, called for the antitrust regulator to investigate their claims that Google is restricting local mobile service providers and Android smartphone manufacturers from pre-loading some mobile search portals on smartphones.
Google has faced a number of investigations in South Korea in recent months that have mainly focused on allegations of the collection of private information. Regulators around the world and several U.S. state attorneys general are also investigating possible privacy breaches by Google. They are focusing on whether Google street-mapping teams collected and stored passwords, emails and other personal information collected from unprotected wireless Internet networks around the world.
The latest allegation in South Korea takes aim at the Google search engine on Android phones. The Korean search portals say this makes it inconvenient for phone owners to switch to a different search window, and thus provides Google with a competitive advantage.
"It does not allow fair competition among search engines if Android-based smartphone users come across Google Search whenever they touch the search engine icon, whether they want it or not," a spokesman for NHN said.
Google declined to confirm the raid but said it would cooperate with the investigation.
"We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
"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. We do not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices," the spokesperson said.
Naver is South Korea's dominant internet portal. As of January, Naver accounted for 52% of South Korea's mobile search engine market, followed by Google's 16% and Daum's 15%, according to South Korean market research company Matrix Mobile Index.
In May, the South Korean police raided Google's Seoul office following allegations that Google's AdMob platform was used to illegally collect private data about users' geographical locations. Similar to other cases around the world, in August last year the National Police Agency launched an investigation into whether Google collected and stored private information illegally while it prepared for the South Korean launch of its street-mapping service.
Both investigations remain open but the Korea Communications Commission told both Apple Inc. and Google's Korean units last month to prevent the saving the locations of handset users without data encryption.
Separately, Google said Wednesday it has won a regulatory license from the Chinese government allowing it to continue operating in the country for another year. Visitors to Google's Chinese search site in China are currently routed to the company's Hong Kong-based site.
Источник: Total Telecom