US Business News

Japan Investigates Google’s Alleged Antitrust Violations in Search Practices

Japan’s Regulatory Action Against Google

In a move that has garnered considerable attention, Japan’s competition watchdog has officially launched an investigation into Google, the tech giant owned by Alphabet. This investigation centers around allegations of antitrust law violations related to Google’s search practices on mobile platforms. This development underscores the increasing regulatory pressure that the American technology behemoth is facing in international markets.

Examining Revenue Sharing Agreements

The Japan Fair Trade Commission’s Examination of Agreements with Android Smartphone Makers

At the heart of this investigation lies a meticulous examination of whether Google has entered into specific agreements with manufacturers of Android-based smartphones. These agreements are believed to encompass the sharing of revenue derived from search advertisements. However, a critical condition is attached: the device manufacturer must refrain from installing any competing search engine on their products. This raises questions about the nature of such agreements and their impact on fair competition in the mobile device market.

Prioritization of Google Services

Delving into the Prioritization of Google Services on Android Phones

Furthermore, the regulatory body is delving into the extent to which Google’s services are prioritized on devices running on the Android operating system. The primary goal of this aspect of the investigation is to determine whether Google, as a dominant player in the mobile ecosystem, has been leveraging its position to ensure its services take precedence on these platforms. The implications of such prioritization, if proven true, could have far-reaching consequences for competition and consumer choice.

Seeking External Opinions

Incorporating Third-Party Expertise into the Probe

The Japan Fair Trade Commission is committed to conducting a thorough and unbiased investigation. To achieve this, they are actively soliciting opinions from third-party experts and organizations. This collaborative approach ensures that a diverse range of perspectives is considered, thus strengthening the credibility and comprehensiveness of the inquiry. These third-party insights are requested to be submitted by November 22, adding an extra layer of rigor to the investigative process.

Google’s Response

Google’s Defenders and Their Stance

In response to these serious allegations, Google has asserted that Android is, fundamentally, an “open-source platform that has enabled diversity.” They emphasize that this openness and flexibility have empowered users to customize their devices to suit their individual needs. Users have the freedom to shape their browsing and search preferences and to download applications that align with their unique requirements. Google’s statement is pivotal in this unfolding story and adds a layer of complexity to the investigation.

Dominance of Google’s Android

Google’s Dominant Position in the Mobile Operating System Market

Notably, Google’s Android reigns as the world’s largest mobile operating system, commanding an impressive market share of approximately 80% in the smartphone industry. Its widespread usage in mobile devices worldwide is a key aspect that regulators are keen to explore in this investigation.

Global Regulatory Scrutiny

Global Perspective on Regulatory Actions Against Google

It’s vital to place this investigation into a broader international context. Over the past few years, Google’s business practices, particularly concerning Android, have attracted significant scrutiny from regulatory bodies across the globe. In 2018, the European Union made headlines by imposing a record-breaking fine of 4.34 billion euros ($4.6 billion) on Google for alleged abuse of dominance. The EU’s contention was that Google had unduly favored its services by requiring smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google apps, including Chrome and Search, bundled with its app store, Google Play. Subsequently, an EU court slightly reduced the fine after Google’s appeal, but it largely upheld the regulators’ findings.

U.S. Department of Justice’s Ongoing Trial

Significance of the Ongoing Tech Antitrust Trial in the U.S.

Finally, it’s crucial to underscore the profound significance of the ongoing trial initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice. This legal action alleges that Google violated anti-monopoly laws through its exclusive agreements with mobile phone and browser manufacturers, effectively making its search engine the default choice for consumers. This ongoing proceeding is not only a critical juncture in Google’s global journey but also represents one of the most substantial tech antitrust trials to grace the United States in decades.

Pinduoduo discovered to use malware to access users privacy data

PinduoduoAccording to cybersecurity experts, Pinduoduo, one of China’s most popular shopping apps, may snoop on users.

The program may be able to bypass mobile phone security in order to spy on other apps on the device.

In addition, the app can monitor notifications, change settings, and access private communications.

The app is tough to get rid of.

The investigation

Pinduoduo takes violations of privacy and data security to a new level.

Several programs collect massive amounts of user data without authorisation, but Pinduoduo takes it to a new level.

The crisis at the e-commerce behemoth was found by cybersecurity teams from Asia, Europe, and the United States, as well as former and current Pinduoduo employees.

Several researchers detected malware on the app that can attack vulnerabilities in Android operating systems.

Insiders said the vulnerabilities were used to promote sales by targeting customers and competitors.

According to Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer of Finland’s WithSecure:

“We haven’t seen a mainstream app like this trying to escalate their privileges to gain access to things that they’re not supposed to gain access to.”

“This is highly unusual, and it is pretty damning for Pinduoduo.”

TikTok & security concerns

The finding of malware in Pinduoduo comes at a time when TikTok and data security are causing significant concern.

The revelations are anticipated to divert focus to its brother program, Temu, which is currently sweeping the United States.

Temu has not been mentioned, but Pinduoduo’s alleged activities may affect the growth of its sibling app.

So yet, no evidence of Pinduoduo sending data to the Chinese government has been discovered.

Yet, US lawmakers have raised concern about firms based in China being compelled to assist with security measures.

Initial suspension

Pinduoduo was withdrawn from the Google Play Store in March after malware was discovered in older versions of the app.

A Russian cybersecurity outfit identified possible malware as well, according to Bloomberg.

Earlier, the company refuted allegations and concerns that the software is dangerous.

Rise of an empire

Pinduoduo, while today well-known for its online shopping, had humble beginnings.

It was founded in 2015 in Shanghai by Colin Huang, a former Google employee.

The app began as an underdog in a market dominated by Alibaba and

Pinduoduo was successful by giving steep discounts, encouraging group purchases from friends and family, and focusing on low-income rural regions.

According to financial records, the company thrived until around the middle of 2020, when monthly users dropped to around 50%, continuing a decreasing trend.

By 2020, the company had a team of 100 engineers and product managers looking for vulnerabilities in Android phones and flaws to exploit and profit from.

According to an anonymous insider, the company only targeted people in rural and small towns, avoiding major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

“The goal was to reduce the risk of being exposed,” they explained.

The business was able to create a portrait of consumers’ actions and interests using user activity data.

According to the insider, the data also allowed the company to improve its machine-learning model, allowing it to give more personalized notifications and adverts.

In early March, suspicions regarding the squad’s actions led to its disbandment.

Read also: Galaxy S23 maintains consistency with minor changes


An independent assessment of the app’s 6.49.0 version was undertaken by Check Point Research, Oversecured, and WithSecure researchers.

When Google shut down Pinduoduo in March, it cited the detection of malware in off-Play versions as the reason.

Researchers identified privilege escalation malware, which attacks weak operating systems to get unauthorized access to data.

“Our team has reverse engineered that code and we can confirm that it tries to escalate rights, tries to gain access to things normal apps wouldn’t be able to do on Android phones,” said Hyppönen.

According to the corporation, the application may run in the background and prevent itself from being deleted, hence raising monthly active user rates.

Pinduoduo may spy on competitors by watching their activity and gathering data.

Check Point Research uncovered methods for the app to avoid detection.

It employed a mechanism that allowed it to post updates without being subjected to app store reviews, which are often used to discover malicious apps.

Many plug-ins hid potentially malicious components under legitimate file names.

“Such a technique is widely used by malware developers that inject malicious code into applications that have legitimate functionality,” said experts.

Targeting Android

The Android operating system is used by three-quarters of Chinese smartphone users, while Apple iPhones account for 25% of the market.

According to Oversecured inventor Sergey Toshin, Punduoduo’s malware is targeting Android-based operating systems, notably Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.

Toshin describes the app as a mainstream entity that harbors the most lethal malware.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “It’s like, super expansive.”

Toshin determined that the program took use of more than 50 Android system vulnerabilities, each of which was meant for customized parts.

Pinduoduo also exploited AOSP flaws, one of which he disclosed to Google in February 2022.

Yet, it was fixed by Google in March of this year.

The exploit gave the app access to the following without the user’s knowledge:

  • Calendars
  • Contacts
  • Locations
  • Notifications
  • Photo albums

The malware may also change system settings, giving it access to users’ social media accounts and chats.

Law violation

Pinduoduo’s user base grew in the face of the Chinese government’s regulatory campaign on Big Tech, which began in late 2020.

By 2021, Beijing will have enacted its first comprehensive data privacy legislation, ensuring that no party inappropriately collects, manages, or transmits personal information.

“This would be embarrassing for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, because this is their job,” said Trivium China tech policy expert Kendra Schaefer.

“They’re supposed to check Pinduoduo, and the fact that they didn’t find (anything) is embarrassing for the regulator.”

Experts in cybersecurity wondered why regulators did not step in on Chinese social media.

“Probably none of our regulators can understand coding and programming, nor do they understand technology,” an expert wrote on Weibo.

“You can’t even understand the malicious code when it’s shoved right in front of your face.”

Galaxy S23 maintains consistency with minor changes

Galaxy S23: Despite the fact that there are many companies competing for the top spot in the smartphone industry, two brands have dominated it.

In a close competition over the past 10 years, Apple and Samsung have contended against one another.

Samsung has always had the benefit of having a large selection of models, while Apple has regularly kept its lineups consistent.

Months after Apple debuted the iPhone 14, Samsung upgraded its top-tier Galaxy series with the S23 line.

The new phones

The Galaxy S23 phones are the most recent addition to enter Samsung’s iconic S-series lineup.

The S-series lineup’s most recent upgrades include the Samsung Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra.

The top Android developers have made major hardware and software improvements for this year’s edition.

Despite the alterations, the tech titans maintained their approach and made hardly any changes to the devices.


One of the most significant improvements for the S23 phones that will be sold globally is their CPU.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which will be welcomed by European customers, will be found exclusively in each model.

The Qualcomm chipset enables the phones’ faster clock rates than other 8 Gen 2 Chipsets.

The Galaxy S23 phones will also provide a selection of storage configurations.

Another characteristic carried over from past S-series handsets is the fixed 8GB RAM.

By supporting Bluetooth 5.3 and 6Ghz WiFi 6E, the Qualcomm CPU enhances connection.


The camera is one of the top features customers look for in smartphones.

Many Samsung loyalists still prefer the sharpness of the Android device’s cameras, despite the fact that Apple has always been the best in terms of quality.

For the S23 lineup, the cameras were upgraded.

Though less than the Ultras, the Galaxy S23 and S23+ include a number of significant updates.

From the 12MP on the S22 series, the phone’s Camera RAW software has greatly improved.

Read also: Robots take the helm in Singaporean businesses

It now takes pictures with a resolution of 50MP, making the most of the primary camera’s capabilities.

The camera’s 50MP sensor is still there, but the new Qualcomm chipset can take movies at high to 8K quality at 30 frames per second as opposed to last year’s 24 fps.

The 12MP ultra-wide camera and the 3x10MP telephone lenses, meanwhile, are still of the same quality as past models.

Nevertheless, a somewhat better 12MP selfie camera is included on all three Galaxy S23 models.

Now, 60FPS Super HDR is available while shooting videos.


While maintaining the fundamental design philosophy of the S22 series, the S23 series offers better screens.

The phones use flat Dynamic AMOLED 2X panels with an FHD+ resolution.

Furthermore, their refresh rates range from 48 to 120 Hz, and while they are in game mode, a 240 Hz touch sampling rate occurs.

The S23+ screen’s display extends to 6.6 inches, versus the standard Samsung Galaxy S23’s 6.1-inch screen.

Both versions have centered punch holes for the selfie cameras and keep the fingerprint reader underneath the screen.

Samsung has added two new features this year: Vision Booster and Enhanced Comfort.

In order to adjust the colors and contrasts to the lighting conditions, Vision Booster is deployed.

Enhance Comfort treats evenings in the same way, which reduces eye fatigue.

Battery life

For 2023, Samsung decided to extend the battery life of the S23 phones.

200mAh higher compared to the S22 series, they now have a battery life of 4,700mAh for the S23+ and 3,900mAh for the S23.

The standard model has a wired charging rate of 25W and can reach 50% in 30 minutes.

In comparison, the S23+ receives a stronger charge of 45W, reaching 65% in 30 minutes.

Both versions still support wireless charging and power sharing.

Other notes

The newest Samsung Galaxy S-series models, the S23 and S23+, copied the Ultra’s design philosophy by taking off the Contour Cut camera housing to show the three camera lenses.

They also have an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.

The S23 phones are also the first ones on the market to employ the more resistant Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Additionally manufactured from recyclable materials, the phone packaging.

The S23 phones come in four different color options: Cream, Green, Lavender, and Phantom Black.


The Samsung Galaxy S23’s pricing range is as follows:

Standard Samsung Galaxy S23

  • 8GB RAM + 128GB storage: $799
  • 8GB RAM + 256GB storage: $849
  • 8GB RAM + 512 storage: TBA

Samsung Galaxy S23+

  • 8GB RAM + 256GB storage (the new starting storage): $1,049
  • 8GB RAM + 512GB storage: TBA

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • 8GB RAM + 256GB storage: $1,199
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB storage: $1,299
  • 12GB RAM + 512GB storage: $1,399
  • 12GB RAM + 1TB storage: TBA