After an eight-month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission voted four to one not to block Google’s proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.
The merger still faces scrutiny from the European Commission, whose review deadline is April 2.
The FTC’s majority statement said the merger is “unlikely to substantially lessen competition.” The report also stated the commission felt it did not have the legal authority to block the acquisition on grounds that do not relate to antitrust issues.
The search giant’s purchase of DoubleClick will significantly increase the reach and strength of its data-collection mechanism. Critics of the deal, including FTCCommissioner Pamela Jones Harbour and Jeff Chester, executive director of the privacy group Center for Digital Democracy, cite threats to privacy as a potential outcome.
Martin Smith, VP of development for truEffect, an ad server involved in discussions with the FTCregarding the acquisition, said it would be unfair to single out Google and DoubleClick when privacy is an industry-wide concern.
“As an industry, we need to raise the bar on the ability of the consumer to have adequate consent around what is done with that data and the derivative works of that data,” he said.