Korean trustbusters raid Google offices

The Korean Fair Trade Commission, the country's antitrust agency, raided Google's offices in Seoul today, CNET has learned.
Written by Jay Greene, Contributor

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the country's antitrust agency, raided Google's offices in Seoul today, CNET has learned.

Regulators are apparently interested in information about Google allegedly limiting access to rival search engines on its Android mobile operating system. In April, two Korean internet companies — NHN, which operates the popular Naver search engine there, and Daum Communications — asked the country's Fair Trade Commission to investigate Google's business practices regarding mobile search.

It's also possible that mobile-device makers, some of which are based in South Korea, may have raised concerns related to restrictions Google places on use of its Android mobile OS.

In a statement, Google defended its Android strategy and said that it intends to comply with Korean regulators.

"We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business," the company said in a statement. "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 Google Seoul office was also the target of a raid in May, when South Korean police investigated suspicions that AdMob, Google's mobile advertising unit, had illegally collected personal location data without permission, according to a Reuters report. At the time, a Korean police official told Reuters that that the police suspected Google of collecting personal location information "without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission".

Today's raid, though, appears to focus on a different matter. And if the focus is on Android, Korean authorities aren't the only ones looking. In June, Google disclosed that the US Federal Trade Commission had served the company with a civil subpoena. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the agency was targeting Android, looking into concerns about Google preventing mobile device makers that use the operating system from also featuring services from Google competitors.


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