A bipartisan group of U.S. senators that has been trying to rein in Google and other big tech companies plans to introduce a bill that would regulate the shadowy world of online ads more like how the government regulates Wall Street. The draft bill, aiming to prevent potential conflicts of interest, would effectively force Google to sell or spin off major parts of its dominant advertising technology operations, according to a person with direct knowledge of the bill and another person briefed on it. Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, is leading the effort.
The draft bill comes amid growing outrage over allegations that Google deceived advertisers and news publishers about ad auctions and hurt their businesses in the process. Executives from those industries have been aghast over the detailed allegations, which emerged in recent months as part of a Texas-led antitrust case against Google and its sprawling digital ad business. That part of the business doesn’t get much attention compared to search, YouTube and other apps Google owns, but Google is involved in more ad transactions on the open internet, outside its apps, than any other company.