Congress plans to scrutinize Google Inc.’s proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick Inc. to gauge the potential impacts on consumer privacy and competition in the online advertising business.
Hearings at which Google executives will be called to testify are being planned for late summer or early fall by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee, according to congressional staffers.
In a July 16 letter to the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating the deal, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who chairs the House subcommittee, wrote there is “growing alarm over the implications for consumer privacy from the practices of these companies, especially if they combine.”
In April, Google announced its intention to buy ad-management technology company DoubleClick, which helps its customers place and track online ads, including search ads. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2007.
Privacy groups say the acquisition would give Google access to an unprecedented amount of data on consumers’ Web usage and Internet search preferences.
Representatives for Rush and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who chairs the consumer protection subcommittee, said they are in the early stages of planning the hearings and have not scheduled specific dates or witnesses who will testify.
Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said the company is confident federal regulators will approve the deal.
“Numerous independent analysts and academics have determined that the online advertising industry is a dynamic and evolving space, and that rich competition in this industry will bring more relevant ads to consumers and more choices for advertisers and Web site publishers,” he wrote in an e-mail.