In May 2016, Alphabet went into talks with the South Korean government. The end goal of the negotiations was for Google to obtain the South Korea’s mapping data. The data was to be exclusively used for Google’s local and international mapping services and apps.
The talks ended with South Korea expressing genuine concern over its national security. Nevertheless, the South Korean government let Alphabet know that they would consider their request by August 24th.
August 24th arrived and Google once more attempted to go into talks with the South Korean government about their mapping data. Without the data, worldwide popular services such as Waze and Google Maps would have to rely on satellite imagery. The alternative greatly reduces the quality of Google’s services in those areas. In turn, users may opt another local mapping or navigation service.
During the new August 24th negotiations, South Korea continued to argue the implications that openly sharing mapping data would have on their security. The representatives of the South Korean government requested more time to reach a cautious decision. Alphabet’s representative Kwom Bom-Jun complied and the new date for the mapping data decision has been moved to November 23rd.
Why South Korea Refuses To Give Google Their National Mapping Data
Alphabet’s first request for South Korea’s national mapping data was issued soon after Google’s original launch of Maps. At that time, when South Korea pointed to the potential security risk, Google accused the South Korean government of favoring their local services and of creating an unfair advantage for international services.
In 2013, the Korea Fair Trade Commission began its first official investigation of Google after the company had allegedly violated South Korea’s anti-competition laws. Following the thorough investigation, the KFTC cleared Google of all accusations.
However, Alphabet has now been charged with the same allegations and is pending investigation from the KFTC. Anyone in the know believes that the timing of this second official investigation cannot simply be a coincidence.
Many believe that following this second investigation, South Korea will have enough reason to finally decline Alphabet’s request for their mapping data once and for all.