US Senator Calls On Competition Authorities For Action On Tech Giants

The Federal Trade Commission in the United States has been accused of failing to take action against the tech giants to crack down on ad fraud.

In a letter to FTC chairman Joseph Simons, US Senator Mark Warner pressed the leader of the agency to use the authorities granted to it by Congress to protect consumers and businesses from digital advertising fraud, which reached $7.4 billion in 2016

Senator Warner noted that in large part because of enforcement decisions made by the FTC, Google has come to dominate the digital ad market, but has done little to crack down on fraud. Google was the only major social media company absent for a September hearing in the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Senator Warner serves as vice chairman.

Senator Warner said: “As long as Google stands to profit from the sale of additional advertisements, the financial incentive for it to voluntarily root out and address fraud remains minimal. It was thus enormously discouraging to read your own response to my [25 October] letter, which did nothing to address the inaction of major industry stakeholders in curbing these abuses.

“Instead, your letter appeared to suggest that your authority to address deceptive and unfair practices does not apply to this conduct; rather, your letter portrays the FTC as successfully addressing online fraud through workshops and education campaigns. Neither suggestion inspires confidence in the FTC’s efforts as digital ad fraud has continued to proliferate.”

“In recent congressional testimony, you have urged Congress to provide the FTC with additional authority related to promoting competition and consumer protection in the digital age. Increasingly, I am not convinced the Commission is adequately utilizing the authority it already has to crack down on fraud and other misbehaviour,” 

In October, Sen. Warner wrote a letter to Mr Simons expressing concern following a report published by Buzzfeed detailing continued prevalence of digital advertising fraud and inaction by Google to curb these efforts.