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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Open Markets Applauds Principles of Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Eshoo’s Bills Limiting Micro-Targeting

WASHINGTON -

The following is a statement from Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at Open Markets Institute, in regard to Rep. David Cicilline’s (RI-01) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) introducing bills to limit micro-targeting:

The bills proposed by both Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Eshoo are critical first steps to preserving the integrity of our elections and stopping the manipulation of American voters. As I previously testified, Facebook and Google make a lot of money by renting out their manipulation machines to anyone who pays. These platforms surveil their users and then allow disinformation agents to target propaganda at users based on comprehensive and intimate data profiles. Foreign agents can easily interfere with our elections because of Facebook and Google’s targeted advertising business models. These grave threats to our democracy are not inevitable, but rather result from business choices that prioritize profits over free and fair elections.

This is why, in our letter to the House Subcommittee on Antitrust in early April, we called for a ban on all targeted advertisement and at minimum a ban on micro-targeting of ads. Targeted advertising should be banned altogether, in order to restore fair elections, combat disinformation and stop the monopolization of ad revenue that starves journalism. Digital ads can be shown based on the context of what a person is viewing, as it once did, instead of the dangerous practice of spying on and then targeting individuals. A ban on micro-targeting should not be limited to political advertising, as foreign agents also use issue-based advertising to divide America and influence election outcomes. Both Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Eshoo’s bills are important advances in the right direction, and we commend them for taking action on this urgent issue.

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The Open Markets Institute works to address threats to our democracy, individual liberties, and our national security from today’s unprecedented levels of corporate concentration and monopoly power. By combining policy, legal, and market structure expertise with sophisticated communications and outreach efforts, Open Markets seeks not only to hold today’s monopolies accountable for abuse of power, but to rebuild an economic system where progress is easier to achieve, because power is far more widely and equitably distributed

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