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[Newsmaker] Korean lawmakers to summon Google, Netflix chiefs

(Courtesy of the companies)
(Courtesy of the companies)

The National Assembly of South Korea has selected the chiefs of Google and Netflix’s Korean operations as witnesses at the upcoming audits scheduled for October to ask questions about their business practices.

According to the country’s legislative body Thursday, Nancy Mable Walker, who represents Google Korea, will be asked to testify at the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee’s first audit on Oct. 7.

The committee’s decision to summon Walker comes as Google Korea is reportedly considering whether to expand the payment policy for its obligatory in-app purchases and increase its 30 percent commission fee. So far the policy applies only to game apps, but the change will affect other content apps such as those that provide webcomics, music streaming services and e-books.

Google Play controlled 63.4 percent of the Korean app market by revenue as of last year, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.

One Store CEO Lee Jae-hwan and NCSoft Chief Operating Officer Jung Jin-soo are expected to testify on the implications of Google Korea’s change of policy at the Korea Communications Commission’s Oct. 8 audit.

The KCC has also asked Reginald Shawn Thompson of Netflix Services Korea to appear as a witness and discuss the “Netflix Law.”

The Telecommunications Business Act, which is currently undergoing revision, will require foreign platform operators to share the costs of ensuring stable services. Until now, those costs have been borne by telecommunications firms alone.

Though the Netflix Law aims to put an end to Netflix’s free ride on Korean networks, it has sparked controversy as it would also apply to domestic platform operators. For example, if the country’s biggest portal, Naver, slowed down because too many users were accessing it, not only would telecommunications firms be held accountable but so would Naver.

The head of SK Telecom’s MNO (mobile network operator) business, Yoo Young-sang, has also been selected as a witness along with the head of KT’s customer business, Kang Kook-hyun, and LG Uplus President Hwan Hyun-sik.

By Kim Byung-wook (