Senators Increase Threat Level on GoogleClick Deal

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Washington has a way of getting everyone’s attention by elevating threats of terror. Today Sen. Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, two
U.S. senators on the antitrust subcommittee elevated their concern on the Google DoubleClick (GoogleClick) deal to “Serious Scrutiny”. It is unclear if that is the highest level of threat, but The Federal Trade Commission’s chairman received motions of warning from the Senators to submit Google Inc’s purchase of advertising company DoubleClick for deeper review.
The Senators argued that Google has the most dominant position in Internet advertising for search and contextual ads while DoubleClick was a market leader for display advertising. “While we have not reached any definitive conclusion regarding this issue, we urge that you only approve the merger if you determine that it will not cause any substantial lessening of competition with respect to Internet advertising,” they wrote. They argued that industry experts feel the deal could harm competition.The concerns raised are reminiscent of when DoubleClick, then the largest provider of Internet advertising, tried to acquire Abacus and faced a wall of privacy scrutiny. Kohl and Hatch vehemently raised concerns about privacy implications since both companies collect information about Web activity, “We believe that this deal raises fundamental consumer privacy concerns worthy of serious scrutiny.”FTC spokeswoman Nancy Judy said Chairman Deborah Majoras had received the letter but there was no comment at this time. Google said in a statement it had met and already discussed the privacy questions with the FTC.“We remain confident that the FTC will conclude that this deal is good for consumers, advertisers and Web site publishers,” Google said.URL to Letter: http://hatch.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=DataPipes.ViewPDF&Id=1957

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