South Korea eyes up Google over antitrust laws, again

Google is once again the focus of a probe into whether the company has violated South Korea's anti-competition standards.

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Google

South Korea has launched a formal investigation into whether Google has violated antitrust laws.

As reported by Reuters, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) issued a brief statement acknowledging the formal investigation, but declined to go into any further details.

According to the publication, the search engine giant's Seoul headquarters have already been inspected as part of the probe.

The KFTC has scrutinized Google's practices before. In 2013, the competition watchdog cleared Google of suspicion following an analysis of the tech giant's impact on South Korea's domestic mobile market. The agency concluded that Google's business practices, which included the Google search engine being pre-loaded on handsets, had a "very small" impact on the internet search and mobile market.

The firm's market share dropped for two consecutive years after reaching 11.7 percent in 2013, according to the KFTC. The agency, therefore, concluded that it would be "unlikely" that Google would be involved in anti-competitive practices.

"Google's market share in European mobile search market exceeds 90 percent, which is completely different from [the] Korean market situation," the agency noted.

However, it now appears that Google is back in the South Korean spotlight, which may or may not lead to formal charges or fines.

On Thursday, Google was fined $6.8 million in Russia after losing an appeal over an antitrust ruling which punished the company for pre-loading apps on handsets destined for the Russian market.