The dispute between Google Inc and the Taipei City Government continued yesterday as the world’s top search engine giant said it disagreed with Taipei’s interpretation of a local law and that it would continue to suspend paid apps offerings on its Android Market in Taiwan.
“We continue to disagree with the chairman’s interpretation of the Consumer Protection [Act, 消費者保護法] (which was originally intended to protect consumers ordering physical goods by [postal] mail),” Android policy counsel Kenneth Carter said in a statement.
He was referring to Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元), director of the Taipei City Government’s Law and Regulation Commission, who represented Taipei in negotiations with the US search giant in the dispute.
The city slapped Google with a NT$1 million (US$34,632) fine on June 27 after a 15-day grace period.
The penalty was based on Google not offering Taiwanese consumers a seven-day refund mechanism as mandated by the Consumer Protection Act, which requires at least seven days of free trial for products purchased over the Web.
Google suspended its paid apps offerings on the Android Market in Taiwan the same day it received the fine — a move that Carter said was “to comply with the government’s request.”
The company yesterday said it would appeal the fine and had notified the city government the suspension would continue while it pursues clarification of the law via Taiwan’s legal system.
“The bottom line is: Google respects Taiwanese law,” the statement read.
“In the meantime, Taiwanese users can still enjoy free apps on Android Market while developers can continue to sell their apps around the world. We hope to bring paid apps back to Android’s many users and developers in Taiwan as soon as the law allows us,” the statement read.
The dispute came as Google subscribes to the stance that its 15-minute trial window for a refund is sufficient and that it has to protect developers’ interests.
“Purchasing apps isn’t the same as buying other types of goods online,” Carter said. “When you get a newspaper delivered through the mail, you wouldn’t expect to read and then return it for a 50 cent refund at the end of the week. You need to wait for a book or a dress you’ve bought to arrive by post, but apps are delivered over the air instantly — you can try them out as soon as you’ve downloaded them.”
Google said it has other refund mechanisms in place to strike a balance between the interests of users and “450,000 developers who build apps for Android Market” and “to help them manage their businesses effectively.”
Some Taiwanese developers, in Google’s own words, feel that Taipei’s proposal for a seven-day trial “would impair their ability to build creative and innovative apps.”
Other refund mechanisms after the 15-minute window include the option to contact the developer directly using Google Checkout’s Purchase History page, and if it bears no fruit, then the app user could file a request to Google via Android Market Support.
The Taipei City Government yesterday said it would give Google two more weeks to reach its final decision. It didn’t state whether it would impose further penalties on Google if the eventual answer was “no.”
“Android Market is an open platform. Apps being sold there don’t need certification and consumers may end up paying for an app that doesn’t live up to what it claims,” Yeh said in a statement. “We will continue to talk to Google to create a ‘triple-win’ for Google, consumers and developers.”
Apple Inc, the maker of iPhones and iPads, on Thursday revised its App Store’s terms and conditions of purchase, giving Taiwanese consumers a seven-day trial period.
Taipei said the move made Taiwan the world’s first and only market to have such a privilege.
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have
GRID PROBLEM: A Taipower spokesman said that the blackouts were not due to usage exceeding supply, nor were they because of a problem at the Singda plant There were rolling blackouts across Taiwan yesterday due to a grid malfunction at the Singda Power Plant (興達電廠) in Kaohsiung’s Yongan District (永安), while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said that it was working “as hard as possible to resolve the issue as soon as possible.” At 2:37pm, a malfunction at an ultra-high-voltage substation in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) triggered four generators at the Singda plant to go offline, cutting power output by 2.2 million kilowatts and prompting Taipower to initiate rolling blackouts nationwide as it worked on the problem. Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) told a news conference in Taipei that