Google’s gargantuan online ad business would be split by a pair of tough bipartisan proposals introduced in both houses of Congress, The Post has learned.
The pair of bills would prevent big companies from operating in several parts of the online ad supply chain, ending what critics say is Google’s ability to act as a dominant buyer, seller and broker. in the world of online advertising.
Passing the bills would be a multibillion-dollar blow to Google’s current business model, which critics say allows the company to impose a “monopoly tax” on the internet.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) is the lead sponsor of the next House bill, while David Cicilline (D-RI) is a co-sponsor, the two lawmakers’ offices confirmed to The Post.
“Google sells ads, they buy ads, and they bought the auction company,” Buck told the Post. “All this bill does is say you can’t do all three.”
Buck added that he is still gathering additional co-sponsors before the bill is introduced.
A Senate version of the legislation, called the “Digital Advertising Competition and Transparency Act,” was introduced Thursday morning by Mike Lee (R-Utah), with the senses. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) serving as co-sponsors.
According to a copy of the Senate bill seen by The Post, it would apply to publicly traded companies with $20 billion in annual ad revenue – meaning Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta could be affected in addition to Google.
The bill would also give ad brokers a “best interest duty” to their clients, in much the same way financial advisers on Wall Street are legally obligated to act for the sole benefit of their clients.
“This lack of competition in digital advertising means that monopoly rents are imposed on every ad-supported website and every business – small, medium or large – that relies on internet advertising to grow its business,” Lee said in a statement. . “It’s essentially a tax on thousands of American businesses, and therefore a tax on millions of American consumers.”
Klobuchar said the bill would restore and protect competition in digital advertising to “create a fairer level playing field that will foster fairness and innovation in the future.”
In a statement to The Post, a Google spokesperson called the proposal “the wrong bill, at the wrong time, aimed at the wrong target.”
“Advertising tools from Google and many competitors help US websites and apps fund their content, help businesses grow, and help protect users from privacy risks and misleading ads,” said a Google spokesperson.
“Breaking these tools would harm publishers and advertisers, reduce ad quality and create new privacy risks. And, in an age of increased inflation, it would handicap small businesses looking for simple and effective ways to grow online. The real problem is shoddy data brokers threatening Americans’ privacy and flooding them with spammy ads.
Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senate bill was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. No news of Buck and Cicilline’s companion has been previously reported.
The Post first reported in January that Cicilline and Buck were considering sponsoring a House version of an online advertising marketplace bill.