South Korea readies payment law targeting Apple, Google app stores

From CNET: Apple and Google are under increasing pressure from global regulators, who say the tech giants have abused their power in mobile devices in order to exert control over app developers and pad their profits in the process.

On Tuesday, South Korea's National Assembly passed a bill that will force Apple and Google to loosen restrictions they impose via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The bill, which will become law when signed by the country's president, prevents app store operators from unreasonably delaying the approval of apps or deleting already approved ones. It also says app markets can't require the use of their in-app purchase systems, giving developers the opportunity to choose alternatives or create their own.

South Korea's moves are the latest in a campaign by regulators and lawmakers to establish limits for the tech industry. After decades of letting tech companies grow with little oversight, governments have begun grappling with torrents of misinformation and disinformation spread through social media. The tech industry has also faced a relentless barrage of complaints about its abuses of privacy and heavy-handed business practices.

The South Korean bill focuses on in-app purchases, a topic that has attracted the attention of other lawmakers and regulators. Apple and Google exert tight control, requiring additional purchases made inside an app be processed by them. The companies argue that in-app payment systems help to control fraud while supporting app development. In return, Apple and Google have argued, app developers get an easy way to charge for subscriptions or digital items, such as fashion accessories for avatars in games.

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