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KCC promises to cut down on red tape

Local firms claim that international players get favorable treatment
Dec 14,2017
Korea Communications Commission Chairman Lee Hyo-sung, second from left on the left desk, talks with heads of internet business operators at the Kensington Hotel in Yeouido, western Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]
The Korea Communications Commission, an internet and telecom industry regulator, vowed on Wednesday to level the playing field for both local and international players so that they can compete against in a fair environment. Rather than stepping up regulations on foreign companies such as Google and Facebook, the watchdog will opt to de-regulate Korean players led by Naver.

“We won’t be strengthening regulations,” Lee Hyo-sung, chairman of KCC, told reporters after a meeting with the heads of both domestic and foreign portal sites and social network operators at a hotel in western Seoul. “We plan to punish those who do something wrong rather than imposing regulations in advance.”

Businessmen who attended the meeting included: Naver CEO Han Seong-sook; Kakao CEO Jimmy Rim; Google Korea head John Lee; Facebook Korea head Cho Yong-bum; Content Alliance Platform CEO Kim Joon-hwan; and Woowa Brothers CEO Kim Bong-jin.

The most sought-after de-regulation concerns the right to use private information. Excessively complicated and strict measures to protect private information hinder both established enterprises and start-ups from utilizing the big data that could easily boost the level of their technologies and business, they claim. One of the most frequently mentioned examples is hospitals and health care service providers being barred from releasing their patients’ information to other firms unless patients give their permission. In other countries, many companies use the big data for analysis, artificial intelligence learning and product development.

“We should be allowed to utilize private information, such as in the United States and China,” said Kakao CEO Jimmy Rim.

For a more in-depth discussion on the regulations, the KCC will launch a committee at the end of this month at the earliest that will consist of some 20 figures from the government, businesses, consumer groups and academia.

“They will be listening to the agonies and difficulties of internet firms and the government will be demanding corporations perform enhanced social responsibilities,” said a KCC official.

The gathering was prompted by a recent feud between Naver and Google. In November, Naver Founder Lee Hae-jin complained during a parliamentary hearing that Google pays less tax than it is supposed to and that the global search engine giant is contributing little to creating jobs. Google immediately responded by claiming it is paying taxes in Korea, is abiding with laws regarding tax and currently hires hundreds of staff.

As an initial step, the KCC chairman held a press briefing on Dec. 6 and promised to tighten restrictions to stop foreign internet giants from distributing harmful content and not paying enough for the networks they use, practically siding with domestic players.

Facebook Korea and Google Korea used the Wednesday meeting to curry favor with the Korean government. The former vowed to help out those working mothers who had their career halted due to child birth and hire more technology-related staff, whereas the later talked about supporting start-ups and helping YouTube creators enter global markets.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]