SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s antitrust regulator said Friday it will seek to take punitive actions against unfair business activity by online platform operators in a bid to protect contractors and consumers.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) plans to submit a bill designed to prevent unfair business activity by online platform operators to the National Assembly next week, the regulator said in its 2021 policy plan.

Under the bill, online platform operators will be levied with a hefty fine if they conduct abusive or illegal business activity against contractors registered as sellers.

In a contactless consumption trend caused by the pandemic, online platforms such as Google, Naver and delivery apps have come to have a powerful presence.

But smaller merchants and shop owners registered as sellers on the platforms have not been properly protected, raising the need to enhance transparency in transactions on online platforms.

The KFTC said it will also seek a revision to the Electronic Commerce Consumer Protection Act to better make online platform businesses take responsibility for consumer damages occurring from e-commerce transactions.

The regulator also plans to regulate inter-affiliate trading by conglomerates.

Internal trading has been blamed for allowing owner families to easily net large profits by having subsidiaries award lucrative contracts to each other, undermining the principle of fair competition.