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The Peninsula

Big Tech as Public Service Providers

Published October 27, 2021
Author: Korea View

What Happened

  • The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced that it will begin a pilot service that allows people to search where sex offenders live using the map app provided by Korea’s largest online platform Naver.
  • The service was created because the current system is updated less frequently than the Naver map.
  • This follows a wave of new apps that were developed during the pandemic to provide important information about the outbreak to the public.

Implications: Large technology platforms are deepening their stake in the Korean economy by becoming critical social service providers. In addition to serving as a search engine, Naver will work with the government to promote public safety. This continues the role that the tech sector played during the COVID-19 pandemic to complement the government’s response to the outbreak, particularly around contact-tracing and information sharing. Correspondingly, the government continued to invest heavily in technology during the pandemic with the aim to further harness advanced capabilities. Large tech companies are responding to this growing interest by advancing their own initiatives. In addition to the map tracking sex offenders, Naver announced a partnership with LG to build a remote learning system.

Context: As large technology companies gain an ever-increasing share of the online market, advocates of small and medium enterprises have put forward concerns regarding the potential dampening effect of this growth on innovation and competition. But the lack of real legal action or regulation shows that the government continues to favor and support large tech firms because they want to foster globally-competitive innovative technologies.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Janet Hong and Yubin Huh. Picture from Richy!

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