Google guilty of abusing Android dominance in S Korea

Specifically, the Korea Fair Trade Commission Google (KFTC) is taking issue with the anti-fragmentation agreements (AFA) Google has manufacturers like Google  Samsung sign, which prevents it from making changes to the operating system.

The ruling prohibits Google from forcing manufacturers to sign these AFAs, and will also require it to modify Google existing agreements.

The regulator is concerned that restricting these forks to the Google has prevented the emergence of viable competitors to Android from the likes of Amazon and Alibaba. Although the core of Android is open-source, manufacturers have to sign an AFA to get benefits like early access to the operating system as well as access to the Google Play Store, an essential part of the Android experience for most smartphone users, CNBC notes.

“The Korea Fair Trade Commission’s decision is meaningful in a way that it provides an opportunity to restore future competitive pressure in the mobile OS and app market markets, said KFTC chairperson Joh Sung-wook in a statement reported by Reuters. The fine could be the ninth largest the regulator has ever issued, it said.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Google told CNBC that the company disagreed with the ruling, and argued that Android’s policies had allowed Korean phone manufacturers and developers to be successful, and had created opportunities for innovation.

The KFTC’s decision released today ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers, the spokesperson said, adding that Google plans to appeal the ruling. Google has previously said that its AFAs are necessary to ensure that apps work across more Android phones.

Korea’s regulator said that today’s ruling also applies to these other categories. “Corrective measures included emerging smart device-related areas such as smartwatches and smart TVs, Chairperson Joh Sung-wook said in comments reported by Bloomberg.

The ruling comes on the same day as the so-called “anti-Google law goes into force in South Korea. Google collecting a 30 percent cut of transactions. Similarly, a US judge ruled last week that Apple can’t stop developers from linking to other payment methods as a result of legal action brought by Epic Games. The decision on Epic v. Google is still pending.

As well as Google’s anti-fragmentation agreements, Bloomberg notes that the Korean regulator is also investigating alleged competition restrictions in Google’s Play Store app market, in-app purchases, and the ad market. Microsoft has announced users can now delete all passwords from their accounts and instead login using an authenticator app or other solution. 

It said nearly 100% of our employees were already using the new, more secure system for their corporate accounts. Only you can provide fingerprint authentication or provide the right response on your mobile at the right time, it said. Windows users will still be able to use quick-login features such as a Pin code, though.

Prof Alan Woodward, part of a research team investigating password less authentication, at the University of Surrey, called it quite a bold step from Microsoft. This isn’t just logging into PCs, it’s logging into online services as well – including important ones such as cloud storage, he said.
Microsoft laid out its reasons for the new system in a series of blog posts. The new password less feature greets users with a box saying: A password less account reduces the risk of phishing and password attacks.

Microsoft’s claims about poor password use were largely true, Prof Woodward said. Passwords were a decades-old concept and maybe the time is now right to start looking for something different.

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