The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has accused Google of interfering with its investigation into allegations that the search giant has adopted unfair trade practices in the country’s mobile search space, according to ZDNet Asia.
Citing a report from Korean news agency Hankooki, it claims that Google has “methodically” obstructed the organisation by deleting files from computers and having Google employees work from home, rather than the company’s Seoul office, which was raided twice last year.
As a result, the KFTC is reportedly considering whether to slap Google with a fine of 200 million KRW (around $170,000) as it seeks to remove the roadblocks and continue with its investigation, which was initiated by Daum and Naver. The two companies, which rival Google in Korea’s search market, accused the firm of banning all South Korean phone manufacturers from including third-party search applications under its marketing contract, and delaying the certification of handset makers that “violated the condition”.
Following the most recent KFTC search of Google’s office in September, the company said that it was working to discuss the issues with the KFTC, as a spokesperson explained:
Android is an open platform, and carrier and OEM 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 Korean authorities have had other run-ins with Google in the past. Police raided the company’s offices back in May over what they perceived to be illegally obtained tracking data, a subject which also saw Apple investigated in the country. However, the company was subsequently cleared when the investigation concluded in September.
It should be noted that the ZDNet source appears to be an online translation of the Hankooki article and therefore there may be discrepancies between it and the original report in Korean. False allegations of a new KFTC raid on the Google’s Seoul premises emerged in November, only to be corrected hours later.
When contacted by The Next Web today, a Google spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations but did state that the company “will of course continue cooperating with this and other government inquiries”.