A bill that addresses the antitrust practices of Apple and Google in their app store businesses is expected to pass South Korea. The two US companies are seeking help from the Biden administration, which could prove a hard test for the White House as it is also exploring ways to reign in on the monopolistic powers of these companies.
Over the past few months, smartphone operating systems manufacturers Google and Apple have been fighting legislation in South Korea that would have a negative impact on their app store policies but would be better for consumers and those who want to curb censorship.
If the law passes, companies that operate app stores would be required to allow Korean users to use a variety of payment methods for in-app purchases. The law would also prevent Apple from blocking developers from listing their apps on third-party app stores, meaning that alternative ways of getting apps on smartphones would be necessary and a good way to ensure consumers can use apps that Big Tech bans.
The companies, having unsuccessfully lobbied Korean government officials and legislators, have sought help from a powerful ally; the US government. But the White House might be unsure about whether to help.
Traditionally, the US government has defended American companies from laws that would have a negative impact on their profits. However, the president has already voiced his concerns on the “incredible power” of these tech titans.
Lobby groups representing the two companies are arguing that the law could be a violation of a trade agreement between the two countries. The trade agreement between the two countries states that neither government can discriminate against companies with headquarters in the other country.
However, it would be hard for the White House to use the trade agreement violation argument while it was considering doing the same thing the Korean law hopes to achieve.
While a final vote on the legislation was expected yesterday, the plenary session was tentatively delayed to 30 August, according to media reports.