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Restricting Big Tech Corporate Giants: The Values and Concerns of Regulation

기사승인 [352호] 2021.12.06  

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Big tech corporates refer to prominent and dominant information technology companies, such as U.S. firms like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Korean firms like Kakao and Naver. Throughout the recent years, tech giants were on the rise of success in Korea with their sophisticated technology and services. However, the Korean industrial ecosystem order was also disrupted as these corporates’ influence grew immensely. Concerns arose that big tech companies were abusing their power over small businesses and had excessive market monopoly. As a result, the Korean government and Fair-Trade Commission have begun to regulate big tech companies since this September. Domestically speaking, Kakao and Naver became representative regulation subjects. The government announced that regulations would be imposed on the two companies because of their law violations, such as excessive mergers and financial product brokerages. In response to the regulatory measures, the stock prices of Kakao and Naver have fallen sharply. On the other hand, the Korean government has also strongly regulated foreign big tech companies, such as Google. The Fair-Trade Commission judged that Google’s actions such as banning smartphone manufacturers from using “fork OS” was an abuse of market dominance. As a result of the judgement, the revised Telecommunications Business Act, also known as the “Google Abuse Prevention Act,” went into effect on September 14. The law passed the plenary session of the National Assembly on August 31 and aims to secure legal grounds to prevent tech giants from using their superior status to engage in unfair practices. The act is controversial as Korea is the first country in the world to implement a law to prevent big tech companies’ in-app payment enforcement. Public opinion on the unprecedented regulations is also tightly divided. Opposers argue that regulations lower domestic corporate growth and Korea’s international competitiveness, given that it resulted in corporates’ stock crash and suspension of certain services. On the other hand, those in favor of regulation assert that the measures create a fair corporate ecosystem in which various companies can share the economic pie. There is no doubt that regulation itself is necessary to prevent the tyranny of corporate giants’ monopoly. However, it is also true that excessive regulation can hinder economic growth as well. Hence, big tech regulations should be made with close attention so that it brings about market equilibrium without preventing potential corporate growth. 

Shin Jaeyoung jjjyoung@hanyang.ac.kr

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