[LINK] FTC Allows Google-DoubleClick Merger Without Conditions

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Jan 12 13:52:09 EST 2008

 From EPIC Alert 15.01, 11 Jan 2008

[4] Commission Allows Google-DoubleClick Merger Without Conditions

The Federal Trade Commission approved the proposed merger between Google
and DoubleClick without conditions in a 4-1 opinion released on December
20.  According to the FTC, the $3.1 billion proposed merger between the
Internet's largest search profiling company and the Internet's largest
targeted advertising company is "Unlikely to lessen competition." The
decision granting the merger without conditions is surprising following
the Second Request, which the Chairman previously said, is done in cases
where the FTC believes "there is a strong possibility that some aspect
of a transaction would violate the antitrust laws." In a detailed
statement issued the same day, EPIC said that the unique circumstances
of the online advertising industry required the FTC to impose privacy
safeguards as a condition of the Google-DoubleClick merger.

On April 20, 2007, EPIC, CDD, and US PIRG filed a complaint with the
Federal Trade Commission, requesting that the Commission open an
investigation into the proposed acquisition, specifically with regard to
the ability of Google to record, analyze, track, and profile the
activities of Internet users with data that is both personally
identifiable and data that is not personally identifiable.

The groups also urged the FTC to require Google to publicly present a
plan to comply with well-established government and industry privacy
standards, such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines. Pending the resolution
of these and other issues, EPIC encouraged the FTC to halt the
acquisition. The three groups filed a supplement to the complaint with
the Commission in June and a second supplement in September.

EPIC said that the Commission "had reason to act and authority to act,
and failed to do so." EPIC pointed out that the Commission ignored
similar assessments from leaders in Congress and consumer protection

Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour stated, "If the Commission closes its
investigation at this time, without imposing any conditions on the
merger, neither the competition nor the privacy interests of consumers
will have been adequately addressed."

Commissioner Jonathan Leibowitz, in a concurring opinion, warned that
"industry participants must stop being coy and start being more
forthcoming about their practices, the consumer information they
collect, and how they use it" and recommended the adoption of opt-in for
online services.

EPIC said the FTC's decision "does not end the discussion about
competition and privacy protection in the context of merger review.
Consumers around the world will be impacted by the business practices of
the combined entity, and the consequences will have to be addressed."
Attention turns next to a hearing before the European Parliament on
January 21. EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg has been invited to

Federal Trade Commission, 4-1 Opinion Approving the Google-DoubleClick
Proposed Merger (December 21, 2007) (pdf):


Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour, Dissent from FTC Opinion Approving
the Google-DoubleClick Proposed Merger (December 21, 2007) (pdf):


Marc Rotenberg, EPIC, Statement in Response to FTC Opinion Approving the
Google-DoubleClick Proposed Merger (December 21, 2007) (pdf):


Senators Herb Kohl and Orrin Hatch, Chairman and Ranking Member of the
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, Letter urging FTC to give "serious scrutiny"
to privacy and antitrust aspects of proposed Google-DoubleClick merger
(November 19, 2007) (pdf):


European Commission Directorate on Competition, Press Release, Mergers:
Commission opens in-depth investigation into Google's proposed take over
of DoubleClick (November 13, 2007):


EPIC's page on Privacy? Proposed Google/DoubleClick Deal:



Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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