I won’t repeat verbatim the cliche about politics and strange bedfellows, but that’s exactly what we’ll have on parade next week as the public hearings in the US Senate begin about Google’s proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick. As News.com succinctly and ironically points out, “an unlikely alliance of former antitrust defendants like Microsoft and AT&T and public interest groups that traditionally antagonized them have come out against the deal.”
The tangle of issues raised by the acquisition varies according to one’s perspective, but the ostensible issue — I say “ostensible” because there is lots of subtext going on here — that the Senate Judiciary subcommittee will be considering is the impact of the acquisition on the consumer public. A central focus of that inquiry will be the privacy issues of the deal.
Aside from the Congressional review, which was expected, the Federal Trade Commission is still reviewing the deal. Dow Jones News has a nice update on both that review and an FTC “town meeting” in November on online advertising and privacy.
Google has been more progressive than some of its competitors now arguing against the acquisition on privacy issues and has recently called for the creation of international privacy standards.
Microsoft and Yahoo, which both have made similar, big acquisitions of ad networks in the recent past, will be taking lawyerly pains to distinguish those deals from Google-DoubleClick. There should be lots of colorful claims and testimony.