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Senator Ron Wyden calls for an investigation into the ad blocker industry



On Tuesday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the Senate's harshest technology critics, urged regulators to investigate the ad blocker industry for anti-competitive behavior.

For years, some of the largest technology companies have paid ad blockers like Eyeo, which has Adblock Plus, to circumvent the software's limitations and display their ads on devices. In 2015, a report by the Financial Times found that companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google paid out ad blockers so they could be whitelisted to bypass the software's filters.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, Wyden described this behavior and asked Chairman Joseph Simons to initiate an investigation into the entire ad blocker industry in response. Wyden was of the opinion that any company that accepts whitelisted payments should be "far more transparent" about the process with its users.

In the case of Adblock Plus, the company announced in 201

6 that it would accept some ads that are not "intrusive or annoying". The company lists these allowed ads and runs them on devices, but Wyden argues. This behavior is “anti-competitive.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

"Hundreds of millions of consumers around the world have downloaded and installed software tools that are believed to block online ads," Wyden wrote in his letter. "In return, the largest advertising companies silently paid millions of dollars to some of the largest advertising blocker software companies to continue to target and target customers with advertising."

FTC has delegated more resources to investigate technology competition issues. In February last year, the Commission set up a task force of at least 17 lawyers to deal with the technology area against the background of new antitrust questions regarding the market power of large technology companies such as Google and Facebook.


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