The Federal Trade Commission has launched a preliminary antitrust investigation into Google and its $3.1 billion acquisition of the online advertising company DoubleClick. The decision comes after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the US Public Interest Research Group filed a complaint with the FTC on April 20 asking to put the merger on hold to investigate the privacy implications of such deal, claiming adequate measures were not taken to safeguard the personal data that is collected.
Both Google and DoubleClick have built lucrative businesses, the first by selling small relevant text ads that appear alongside its search results and affiliate Web sites while the latter specializes in tracking which Web sites people visit, a combination many find threatening. Google maintained that the FTC review is standard procedure and is confident that the deal would withstand scrutiny.
“We are confident that upon further review the F.T.C. will conclude that this acquisition poses no risk to competition and should be approved,” said Don Harrison, a senior corporate counsel for Google.
The company pointed recent acquisitions in the online advertising market as evidence that there has been no reduction in competition. Since Google announced the DoubleClick purchase, Yahoo announced it would buy Right Media Inc. for $680 million, WPP, a direct competitor of DoubleClick, said it would pay $649 million for 24/7 Real Media, and Microsoft announced its purchase of aQuantive for $6 billion.