Google Faces EU Over DoubleClick Merger
Last month the US Federal Trade Commission approved Google's $3.1 billion takeover bid of Internet advertising giant DoubleClick. In releasing its decision, the FTC stated that the merger was "unlikely to substantially lessen competition" for online advertising. (Source: nytimes.com)
With that hurdle behind them, Google has now finds itself engaged in battles before the European Union over privacy concerns. Sophie In 't Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has been fighting to have the European Commission consider the impact that a Google takeover of DoubleClick could have on the privacy of Europe's citizens. In 't Veld believes that these concerns should be a part of antitrust hearings because Google will be able to acquire a large amount of information about the online behavior of millions of citizens, which gives the company a competitive advantage. "Having that much information is market power," In 't Velt said. (Source: reuters.com)
Peter Fleischer, an attorney for Google, deflected privacy concerns stating that the company does not build files on consumers, but merely analyzes search terms to deliver relevant ads to consumers. Fleischer pointed out that the Internet has been able to deliver free content largely due to online advertising. "All those who wish to protect consumers should also examine the benefits," he added.
Even though Washington approved the Google/DoubleClick deal, FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour dissented from the decision precisely because the FTC decided not to consider issues beyond the scope of market monopolization. "I believe a traditional approach does not capture the interests of all the parties. There is no proxy for the consumer whose privacy is at stake," she said.
The FTC did have some privacy concerns, but said that the issues were not unique to the merger before them and is something that concerns "the entire online advertising marketplace."