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21 Mar, 2018 13:32

South Korea piles more trouble on Mark Zuckerberg's narrow shoulders

South Korea piles more trouble on Mark Zuckerberg's narrow shoulders

As Facebook stock takes a beating over the data row at home, the US company is facing new troubles abroad. South Korea has accused the social network of unfair practices.

The Korea Communication Commission (KCC) on Wednesday slapped Facebook with a 396 million won ($370,000) fine for violating a law against damaging the interests of users. The KCC said the social media giant illegally limited user access to its services from late 2016 to 2017.

The complaint was made when subscribers of local telecommunication providers SK Broadband and LG Uplus began experiencing a slowdown in their Facebook connections.

According to the South Korean regulator, Facebook rerouted some users’ access to its services to networks in Hong Kong or the United States, instead of using domestic networks. The company did not notify them.

The regulator said that connections were as much as 4.5 times slower than before for some users during evening hours.

“Facebook did not actively look into the complaints from local telecoms service providers that users are complaining about slower connections and as a result its service quality was not maintained at an appropriate level,” a statement from the KCC said.

“When controversies erupted in South Korea about Facebook's rerouting, the company restored the connections to their original state around October and November of 2017,” the regulator added.

KCC chairman Lee Hyo-seong was quoted by the commission as saying: “The incident is a case in which the global company infringed upon the benefits of local users by unilaterally changing connection routes without discussing with local telecommunications providers.” 

Facebook has denied all the accusations, saying it did not violate the law. It has explained that the terms of use say it cannot guarantee that its services will operate without delays or interference. 

“We are disappointed with the KCC’s decision. We strive to deliver optimal performance for all our users and will continue working with Korean internet service providers toward this goal,” Facebook said. 

The watchdog has, however, rejected that argument, claiming the terms were unfair. It recommended the social network company amend its terms of use.

According to the KCC, more than 12 million users visit Facebook per day in South Korea.

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