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Korean Antitrusters Put US Tech Heavies Under the Microscope

The Fair Trade Commission, a Korean antitrust agency, has launched an investigation into the Korean units of HP, Oracle and IBM, according to The Korea Times and other news outlets.

According to the reports, the commission’s investigation stems from alleged unfair business practices.

From The Korea Times:

Investigators of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) raided HP’s Seoul office Friday, officials said.

They took computer records and documents and questioned employees over their suspicions.

“It’s true that FTC officials visited our office last Friday,” said HP spokeswoman Baek Min-jung. But she refused to elaborate, calling the ongoing probe “routine,” pointing out the FTC vowed earlier this year to tighten its monitoring over multinational IT firms.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission released a “working roadmap” last December which, according to The Korea Times, is designed to prevent multinational IT firms from leveraging their positions of power.

The Times also reported that HP is already under investigation following a March complaint from IT startup Webcash.

Nokia Floundering in Europe

Nokia has failed to garner momentum in its attempt to challenge the iPhone and Android platforms in the European phone market, according to a Reuters article.

Reuters reports:

Four major telecom operators in Europe, where the phones have been on sale since before Christmas, told Reuters the new Nokia Lumia smartphones were not good enough to compete with Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy phones …

“No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone,” said an executive in charge of mobile devices at a European operator, which has sold the Lumia 800 and 710 since December …

“Nokia have given themselves a double challenge: to restore their credibility in terms of making hardware smartphones and succeed with the Microsoft Windows operating system, which lags in the market,” the executive said.

Moody’s cut Nokia’s credit rating to “one notch above junk” Monday, according to Reuters, after Nokia reported that it would have first- and second-quarter losses. S&P has a similar downgrade last month.

On the heels of a horrid week for the company, Nokia’s shares are at a 15-year low.

European operators, according to the reprt, are itching for a viable alternative — and the bargaining power that comes with it — to Apple and Android phones.

Search the World

The Sydney Morning Herald last month published an article detailing the story of a five year-old Indian man who, 25 years ago when he was five years old, hopped aboard the wrong train, fell asleep, and woke up 14 hours later — without his family.

The boy, Saroo Brierley, later moved to Australia, apparently destined to never see his family again.

But as the Herald tells it,

He turned to Google Earth. “For four years I searched, looking up and down, [then] I started looking from [Calcutta] train station and following the railroad back. But there were so many rail tracks it was sending me absolutely crazy.”

Finally, he found it, 1,484 kilometers from Calcutta: Khandwa. He looked closer. He saw the dam he used to swim in as a child, a bridge he remembered, too. “That’s where I was born.”

The story lived in relative online anonymity — until last week. On Friday, the BBC ran an article retelling the saga, and other outlets followed suit: The Mirror (UK), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Huffington Post and more.

It took a nearly a month for the story to catch, but that’s nothing compared to 25 years.

Internet Battle Rages On

The Guardian’s week-long series “Battle for the Internet” rolled right along Tuesday with a slew of articles.

Featured Tuesday was Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei. Ai began his article with a quote from Chinese dictator Mao Zedong:

Chairman Mao used to say: “As communists we gain control with the power of the gun and maintain control with the power of the pen.” You can see propaganda and the control of ideology as an authoritarian society’s most important task. Before the Internet, all people could do was watch TV or read The People’s Daily. They would carefully read between the lines to see what had happened. Now it is very different. The papers try to talk about things, but even before they appear, everyone has talked about it on the Internet.

The Guardian series also included a piece about the U.S. and China engaging in “war games” that focus on the specter of cyberattacks.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here.

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