Senators propose antitrust bill aimed at Big Tech: ‘First step towards liberating the internet’

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A bipartisan coalition of 11 senators is kickstarting a new push for antitrust legislation aiming at Big Tech companies over concerns that they are amassing monopoly power in the digital advertising market.

The Senate antitrust panel’s Democratic leader, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and its top Republican, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, are leading the effort that takes aim at Facebook and Google.

Ms. Klobuchar said Thursday that Facebook and Google have dominated the digital ads marketplace at the expense of advertisers, publishers and consumers.

“It is past time for a transparent ad technology industry where the best interests of customers are prioritized and companies of all sizes are able to compete,” Ms. Klobuchar said in a statement. “This legislation will put rules in place to do just that, restoring and protecting competition in digital advertising to create a more even playing field that will promote fairness and innovation moving forward.”

The Advertising Middlemen Endangering Rigorous Internet Competition Accountability (AMERICA) Act would prohibit digital advertisers who process more than $20 billion in digital ad transactions from owning more than one component of the digital ad ecosystem, according to Mr. Lee’s office.

The legislation also would create requirements for digital advertisers who process more than $5 billion in digital ad transactions, with the goal of providing fair access and transparency to customers.

The Department of Justice and state attorneys general would be charged with enforcing the AMERICA Act. 

Mr. Lee said the lack of competition in the digital advertising market effectively serves as a “tax on thousands of American businesses” that extends to those businesses’ consumers. 

He said a broken system for online ads has elevated tech companies that had undermined Americans’ privacy, censored speech and exploited kids. 

“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,” Mr. Lee said in a statement. 

The AMERICA Act has attracted the support of unlikely allies such as Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat. 

Others supporting the legislation: Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican; Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican; John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican; Marco Rubio, Florida Republican; Eric Schmitt, Missouri Republican; and J.D. Vance, Ohio Republican. 

Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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