FTC Looking at Google-DoubleClick Deal?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened a preliminary antitrust investigation into Google's planned $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, according to the New York Times.

The outcry of privacy experts and competitors made an investigation all but inevitable, according to the report.

Because the FTC is handling the investigation instead of the Justice Department, which shares antitrust enforcement duties, some sources are assuming that the issues are more privacy-related than anti-trust related. When the deal was announced, three privacy watchdog groups asked the FTC to investigate the potential implications on user privacy. The groups feared that the combination of Google's search history and DoubleClick's tracking of sites visited would "give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world."

But privacy is not an antitrust issue, so it will not be relevant to the investigation except in the ways those issues would relate to a reduction in competition.

"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," Don Harrison, a senior corporate counsel for Google, told the NYT.