KCC vows to clamp down on foreign internet companies

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KCC vows to clamp down on foreign internet companies

The Korea Communications Commission, which regulates the country’s telecommunications and broadcasting industry, vowed to tighten restrictions to stop foreign internet giants from distributing harmful content, violating local privacy protection laws and not paying enough for the networks they use.

“My perspective is that regulations should be equally applied to both foreign and homegrown companies,” Lee Hyo-sung, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, said at a year-end briefing on Wednesday at the Gwacheon Government Complex in Gyeonggi. “In an extreme sense, domestic companies should be free of regulations that are ineffective for other foreign competitors.”

Lee raised the example of Tumblr, a social media site based in the United States that stirred controversy when it did not abide by the Korean commission’s advice to take down obscene material. Content that could be harmful to minors is restricted in Korea, and users have to verify their age to access those websites.

The commission plans to strengthen filters to block the editing and redistribution of illegal content starting next year in cooperation with the National Police Agency, and apply artificial intelligence-based tools to automatically recognize and block illegal content by 2019 in partnership with the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The commission will also be paying closer attention to internet companies like Google and Facebook, which use up large amounts of data traffic. Local mobile carriers, which provide the networks, as well as Korea’s largest internet company Naver, have claimed that these foreign companies do not pay enough for the networks they use.

As for Google, the commission has also started investigating whether it illegally collected and used the location information of Android phone users after media reports that Google’s headquarters has been collecting the information even when users turn off location data.

The commission said it will collaborate with related authorities in the United States, European Union and Japan to effectively respond to the case.

“Other countries, including member nations of the European Union, have shown a strong will against the illegal actions of American conglomerates,” Lee said. “Now, it is a matter of how much execution power the commission can have over foreign companies.”

Lee added lawmakers at the National Assembly are also keen to address recent issues related to foreign internet giants and working to revise relevant laws to more strongly respond to these companies.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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