At the end of July Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, was joined by Sens. Todd Young (IN) and Shelley Moore Capito (WV) in introducing new legislation that would direct the Federal Communications Commission to “conduct a study into the feasibility of collecting Universal Service Fund (USF) contributions from internet edge providers” (companion legislation was also introduced in the House). This legislation would consider the revenues of providers of online content and services, including but not limited to search engines, social media platforms, streaming services, app stores, cloud computing services, and e-commerce platforms, and it calls for review of digital advertising as a potential revenue stream for contributions.
What is IAB’s perspective?
This legislation appears to spring from a proposal by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, aired in a May Newsweek editorial, and it echoes the intent of Maryland’s previously passed and recently postponed law taxing digital advertising revenues, a law still under challenge in federal court for violations of the Constitution and existing federal law. IAB was proud to lead the sounding of concerns against the Maryland law, reminding policymakers of the extensive economic benefits that digital advertising builds. In 2017 IAB teamed up with Harvard Professor John Deighton as part of an ongoing quadrennial study exploring the more than trillion-dollar impact that the ad-supported internet has on the U.S. economy, generating millions of jobs outside the conventional centers of internet industry concentration- and this fall we are excited to release the 2021 update of this research. As soon as this study becomes public, we will conduct a “fly-in” with key policymakers in Congress, those mentioned above and otherwise, to share specifics on the socioeconomic impacts of consumer-friendly data use as it helps individuals in their constituencies and to help them understand the consequences of any approach like Maryland’s.