Korea’s Internet regulations could be more open: Schmidt
Google Inc.'s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said Tuesday that he has asked the Korean president and the top telecommunication regulator to take a cue from countries with more lax rules on the Internet.
"It's my view and I think Google's view that regulations of the Internet in Korea could be more open and more modern," he said at a press meeting, adding that some regulations in Korea fell "a little bit behind."
Schmidt's remarks came one day after he met South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Choi See-Joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).
He heaped praises on the country's advanced broadband infrastructure and a widespread adoption of mobile devices, but Google's former chief executive officer expressed disappointment at the country's growing efforts to regulate the Internet market and online space.
"Other countries have more liberal policies in some cases about the Internet and they should examine them," Schmidt said while briefing reporters on what he told the president and the KCC chief. He declined to comment on any specific regulations.
Even though Schmidt exalted South Korea for the unprecedented speed of adopting new technology and mobile devices, Google picked Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan as destinations for its new data centers, a decision that Schmidt said is a result of "a complicated calculation of efficiency."
Regulations in South Korea are often blamed for having delayed the local debut of the iPhone, which was released nearly three years after its global launch.
In 2009, Google refused to accept South Korean government's request to require users to use their real names when uploading videos on YouTube.com. Last year, the U.S. company shut down Android market's game category for South Korean users, to bypass obligations to rate mobile games before their release.
But with the quick growth of smartphone users in Korea and rising criticism that regulations do not align with the interests of local companies nor Korean users, the government began to phase out some of those regulations.
Google and the Korean government agreed to resume Android market's game category for local smartphone users and Korean game developers, Schmidt said, without announcing a specific schedule.
South Korea's real name verification rules were also rendered obsolete as Google redirected Korean video uploaders to YouTube's international Web site where they can post videos without fully disclosing their identity.
During his first visit to Korea since 2007, Schmidt also met executives at Samsung Electronics Co., its largest Android partner, and visited mobile operators to promote the near field communication technology and Android ecosystem.
The company is under an antitrust investigation by South Korea's fair trade watchdog after its search rivals, NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp., filed separate complaints against Google, accusing the U.S. company of limiting rivals' access to Android devices.
In a separate remark that may be viewed as counter to his stance on online regulations, however, Schmidt said Google benefited from having real name requirements on its own social networking site, Google Plus.
"We have benefited from having a requirement that (users) have what looks like a real name on Google Plus," he said. "The quality of comments and quality of discussion is much better."
Earlier this year, Google introduced Google Plus as its answer to Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., and to play catch-up in the increasingly popular social networking field.
Its attempt to crack down on fake accounts and spam on Google Plus, however, faced public backlashes and began debates about the fuzzy definition of online anonymity.
Google plans to allow more flexibility regarding what names users can adopt for their Google Plus accounts, Schmidt said, while trying to maintain the high quality of the space.
"We'll allow more flexibility," he said. (Yonhap)