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South Korea’s Big Tech Regulations Raise National Security Concerns

 |  January 2, 2024

The Republic of South Korea (ROK) is on the brink of implementing stringent regulations targeting select tech companies. President Yoon Suk Yeol recently expressed his support for new measures aimed at curbing the activities of technology firms classified as “dominant platform business entities.” These regulations, akin to the European Union’s Digital Market Act (DMA), have sparked debates over their potential impact on national security.

The proposed measures are expected to be reviewed by the National Assembly in the coming days as part of a broader bill addressing unfair online market practices. While the goal is to foster competition and consumer choice, concerns are being raised about potential unintended consequences, particularly regarding national security.

The DMA, enacted by the EU in 2022, has inspired several countries to craft their own versions, adapting the European blueprint to their digital policies. However, critics argue that such legislation may inadvertently make countries more susceptible to security threats. In the case of South Korea, there are growing concerns that implementing DMA-style regulations could inadvertently benefit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Related: South Korean Watchdog Fines Google For Lack Of Gaming Competition

The proposed regulations might disproportionately impact innovative tech leaders, primarily American companies, leaving Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and ByteDance untouched. This is raising eyebrows, especially considering the clear national security threats posed by these Chinese companies. TikTok, for instance, has announced plans to expand its creator program in Korea, while Alibaba has invested heavily in the Korean market, both raising concerns about potential CCP influence.

Experts warn that if enacted, the ROK’s regulations could strain relations between Washington and Seoul. By seemingly singling out American businesses, the regulations may create unnecessary friction at a time when the U.S.-ROK bilateral relationship is crucial for maintaining security and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. With China’s increasing economic and military aggression and North Korea’s destabilizing behavior, close collaboration between the U.S. and ROK is essential for addressing shared concerns and maintaining regional stability.

The strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance, rooted in decades of trust and cooperation, must be preserved for the sake of the entire Indo-Pacific region’s stability and security. Balancing the need for regulatory measures with the preservation of strong international partnerships remains a complex challenge that policymakers in South Korea will need to navigate in the coming weeks.

Source: The Hill