FTC Asked to Block Google-DoubleClick Merger

Three U.S. online civil rights groups today filed a complaint asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block Google's planned $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick Inc. unless the company agrees to stop tracking its users.

The complaint, filed Friday by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), calls upon the FTC to block the merger unless it obtains guarantees from Google and DoubleClick that they will protect Internet users' privacy.

Those guarantees include a promise to destroy all cookies and other persistent identifiers resulting from Internet searches that are or could be personally identifiable once a user terminates a session with Google.

The Impact

Such a move would seriously affect many of the services Google offers, which are built on storing the entire search or transaction history of its users.

Google amasses data about the search and surfing habits of millions of Internet users, tracking what they look at, what they write and even what they buy in order to serve relevant advertising. DoubleClick follows Web surfers' activities through cookies attached to the banner ads it serves up, exchanging information with advertisers to help them better target their messages.

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