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Mike Lee Introduces Antitrust Bill Targeting Ad Tech

 |  March 30, 2023

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), joined by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), JD Vance (R-OH), and John Kennedy (R-LA), introduced the Advertising Middlemen Endangering Rigorous Internet Competition Accountability (AMERICA) Act. The bill would restore and protect competition in digital advertising by eliminating conflicts of interest that have allowed the leading platforms in the market to manipulate ad auctions and impose monopoly rents on a broad swath of the American economy.

Of the bill, Sen. Lee said Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the internet economy. It supports most of the free content and services Americans have come to rely upon, including essential local journalism, and it allows businesses of every size to reach their customers quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, online advertising is also suffering under the thumb of trillion-dollar tech companies.

Read more: Antitrust Bill Targeting Amazon, Google, Apple May Not Make It Through Senate Before Summer

Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to exploit their unprecedented troves of detailed user data to obtain vice grip-like control over digital advertising, amassing power on every side of the market and using it to block competition and take advantage of their customers. The conflicts of interest are so glaring that one Google employee described Google’s ad business as being like ‘if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE.

This lack of competition in digital advertising means that monopoly rents are being imposed upon every website that is ad-supported and every company—small, medium, or large—that relies on internet advertising to grow its business. It is essentially a tax on thousands of American businesses, and thus a tax on millions of American consumers.

While online advertising is essential to nearly every business, this broken system has been the primary driver of growth for the tech companies that have failed us in so many other ways: by undermining our privacy, censoring our speech, and exploiting our children.

That is why I have introduced this bill, and why I believe it is the first step towards liberating the internet—and therefore much of the 21st century economy—from the grip of Big Tech monopolists.

Of the bill, Sen. Blumenthal said, Google, Facebook, and other online advertising giants take advantage of their market power to control rival publishers, advertisers, and brokers. Extracting exorbitant fees and favoring their own services, these monopolists hurt consumers, competition, and local journalism. Our legislation takes important steps to prevent marketplace abuse and allow those harmed to seek legal recourse. It’s time to ensure an even playing field in our digital advertising landscape.”