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[Public Opinion] Dispute of Google Map, “Nationalism” shall be alerted2016-10-27Hit:913


[Public Opinion] Dispute of Google Map, “Nationalism” shall be alerted

Lee, Byeong-tae professor at the College of Business Administration of KAIST ㆍ representative of KAIST youth startup business investor 


As the political intervention on the request of overseas export of Google Static began, the issue is being politicized. The economic matter to be decided dispassionately by concerning benefit and welfare of the country has been mingled with comments by vote-catching politicians and opinions to block market access by competitors using the regulations for domestic firms, and thus the anachronistic nationalism and short-sightedness are rampant.

Whether you like it or not, the market share rate of Apple smart phone over the world is about 15%. In other words, 85% of smart phones are Google phones, and one of the necessary applications is map. This application integrates almost all information about traffic and geography, and as it is essential for global consumers in a daily life, there are many applications with services upon this application such as “Pokemon Go.” Recently, President Park, Geun-hye has mentioned about this game and encouraged the development of killer contents. Yet, without Google Map, the killer contents toward the world may not be produced. It is not practical to expect a global success from a product that may not be tested even in the domestic market.

Some politicians state, “The Static Map data are not just for a map but are the essential existence in the quaternary industrial revolution, and it is a core resource of augmented reality and self-driving vehicle of the future industry, which shall not be given to foreign corporations easily.” In this sense, we need to consider whether most of the countries over the world are thoughtless to allow the use of map to Google by not knowing the importance of such core resource. As it is already standardized in the global market, the investment on the map already dominated may not be industrialized. The derivative innovation to put unique service upon the standard technology is cost-effective and much easier for expansion to the global market. The use of such standard service for free is helpful for national benefit and competitiveness of other industries. For example, if a domestic automobile company makes a self-driving vehicle in a current circumstance, a company shall separately manufacture vehicles for both domestic market and foreign market. If the Google Map works in Korea, foreigners may move around within Korea freely, and small businessmen may attract foreign customers easily. As this service is not available, foreign tourists only move around in groups, and they only use duty free shops of large corporations.

Because some domestic competitors are afraid of competition through the Google Map service, they appeal to the nationalistic sentiment. They insist as this use of map information is a special favor for Google, and they propagated that Google does not pay taxes to Korea and is a non-transparent company to demonize Google with matters that are not actually related to Google Map. Since obtaining of the map information and not having the domestic server by Google may be approved by the government, Google just applied for these. Even if Google puts a server in Korea, unless Google makes a separate application, it may not resolve the issue of releasing the map overseas. The companies provide a continuous service to customers everywhere and a service to download a map via off-line for those in regions with communication problems. This type of service is available only when the map is stored in the distributed servers outside the country.

The dispute of Google tax is also independent from Google Map. Even if there is a domestic server, since Google does not make any profit from the use of map, the government may not impose any tax on Google. If Google is not paying a proper tax, the National Tax Service may impose a tax on Google, and if European countries or India may not impose a tax on Google because of their tax systems, those countries shall amend their tax systems. This “Google Tax” issue comes from the fact that the traditional tax system does not follow the technological transition of online business. The corporate tax is imposed by the country where the corporation exists, and the surtax and the sales tax are imposed not at the location of company but at the location of purchaser – the online is separated from such off-line boundary. The domestic competitors also have the same issue of tax just like Google. When foreigners purchase goods from domestic sellers, the sellers do not pay taxes to the countries of foreigners, and foreign buyers do not pay any value-added tax to Korea. However, since the domestic competitors take only small market share, this is regarded as insignificant. If political parties and politicians regard this issue to be truly serious, they shall study about the tax system just like other countries instead of having vote-catching dispute irresponsibly.

One of the delusions by policy authorities and those in IT industries of Korea is that once the government prepares the development policy of IT industry and administers policy funds, the government may industrialize all. The results of such delusion are endless waste of taxes, formation of zombie companies, and imposition of poor goods and services to consumers. The map-related service falls under these. In any field of industry, there is a part for competition. By ignoring consumers and competitiveness of other industries, as they propagated anachronistic nationalism and brought in political influence, the dispute of Google Map has been politicized. Under such circumstances, it is doubtful whether the policy authorities may make rational and dispassionate decisions. The day for youth in Korea to enjoy Pokemon Go is still far from now.

Copyrights @ Digital Times

Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )