This story is part of a Recode series about Big Tech and antitrust. Over the last several weeks, we’ve covered what’s happening with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google.
There’s a new Big Tech antitrust bill in town, and this one is especially painful for Google.
A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act on Thursday. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would forbid any company with more than $20 billion in digital advertising revenue — that’s Google and Meta, basically — from owning multiple parts of the digital advertising chain. Google would have to choose between being a buyer or a seller or running the ad exchange between the two. It currently owns all three parts, and has been dogged by allegations, which it denies, that it uses that power to unfairly manipulate that market to its own advantage.
“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,” Sen. Lee said in a statement. “It is essentially a tax on thousands of American businesses, and thus a tax on millions of American consumers.”
Google said in a statement that this is “the wrong bill, at the wrong time, aimed at the wrong target,” and that its ad tools produce better quality ads and protect user privacy.
You can add the new legislation to the growing pile of Google’s antitrust woes. While the media has given more attention to the antitrust issues of rivals Apple and Meta, Google is potentially in more trouble than any other Big Tech company. State and federal governments have filed four antitrust cases, all within a year of each other. In October 2020, the Department of Justice and 14 state attorneys general sued Google over alleged anti-competitive practices to maintain its search engine and search ad monopoly. That December, 38 other state attorneys general filed a separate, similar case. If you