South Korea App Store payment bill final vote delayed until further notice

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A South Korean parliamentary committee has voted in favor of preventing big tech from forcing the use their in-app payment systems in App Stores, but it isn't clear when — or if — the final vote and presidential ratification will take place.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the bill was passed as expected, by the legislation and judiciary committee of the country's National Assembly. This was the last hurdle before a final vote before a plenary session of the full assembly, and ultimately ratification by President Moon Jae-in.

That plenary session was originally scheduled to follow Wednesday's committee vote. However, it has now been delayed until further notice.

The bill, which amends South Korea's Telecommunications Business Act, is being dubbed the "Anti-Google law" by local media for its targeted language against owners of digital app stores. It passed, it will force Apple and Google to allow alternative payment methods for in-app purchases, as well as prevent app store rules from promoting alternative and self-hosted payment methods.

"User trust in App Store purchases will decrease as a result of this proposal — leading to fewer opportunities for the over 482,000 registered developers in Korea who have earned more than KRW8.55 trillion to date with Apple," Apple said in a statement.

A very similar declaration by Google was made on Monday. A Google spokeswoman said that the company believed the legislation would harm consumers and software developers.

Trade groups associated with Apple and Google are also fighting the measure. In October, the Information Technology Industry Council urged the U.S. Trade Representative to note concerns about the South Korean bill in an annual report on foreign trade. The group said passage of the legislation could violate joint trade agreements.

The legislation passed committee scrutiny in the Korean National Assembly in July with minor resistance. The early Wednesday vote precedes being sent to the full assembly and ultimate ratification by President Moon Jae-in.

The Coalition for App Fairness is in favor of the bill. It hopes that the bill will prompt the US to pass similar legislation.