November 1st, 2007

FTC reviewing Google ad deal "expeditiously"

By Diane Bartz
Reuters

U.S. antitrust authorities are reviewing Google Inc’s purchase of advertising company DoubleClick as quickly as possible, Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said on Thursday.

“Our staff is working through the matter as expeditiously as possible given the complexity of the matter,” Leibowitz said. The agency’s antitrust review of the deal began in May.

But Leibowitz warned that privacy advocates could be disappointed. U.S. privacy and technology groups have raised questions about the deal because Google stores information on the Internet-surfing habits of users and uses it to sell ads. DoubleClick connects ad agencies, marketers and Web site publishers.

“(The review) can’t be about privacy, per se,” said Leibowitz, who made his remarks at an FTC public meeting on the privacy implications of Internet advertising.

Australia has approved the $3.1 billion deal, but it faces antitrust scrutiny in the European Union and United States.

European regulators have extended their inquiry to allow remedies to possible competition problems to be tested, while experts in the United States have predicted the deal will win approval here.

The deal faces opposition from competitors Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc.

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