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South Korean regulator fines Facebook for limiting user access

The social media giant re-routed networks which caused users’ connections to slow.

South Korean regulator fines Facebook for limiting user access
Photo: Reuters

South Korea's telecom regulator has finned Facebook 396 million won (approximately $369,705) for slowing down user internet connections in 2016 and 2017.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) began investigating Facebook last May and found that the social media giant had illegally limited user access, as reported by ABC News. 

According to South Korean law, which prohibits internet services from rerouting users’ connections to networks in Hong Kong and the US instead of local ISPs without notifying those users. 

In a few cases, such rerouting slowed down users’ connections by as much as 4.5 times. There were 14.5 million Facebook users in South Korea in 2017 and the number is expected to rise to 14.84 million in 2018, according to Statista.

“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,” KCC said in a statement, adding that Facebook restored connections last autumn after its rerouting methods became public knowledge in South Korea.

Users would complain to local ISPs about slow connections to Facebook and Instagram several times a day, ABC News report said. For instance, SK Broadband, an ISP that provides home services, received 10 complaints a day, and another ISP, LG UPlus, got 34 complaints a day on average.

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

The social media giant argued that its terms of service don’t guarantee that its services won’t be delayed, so it shouldn’t be violating the South Korean law. The KCC has not accepted that argument and told Facebook to amend its terms of service.

Meanwhile, the case is unrelated to the Cambridge Analytica data mishandling that came to light late last week.