A step forward for the proposed merger of Google and DoubleClick: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the USA's competition authority, gave it the green light on 20 December. It still needs approval from the European Commission. Google Inc, which announced the purchase of the online advertising management system for US$3.1 million, hopes "that [the Commission] will reach the same conclusion". Which is shaping up to be more complicated, as the EU executive has opened an in-depth investigation until 2 April (see Europolitics 3413) and preliminarily analysed that the transaction "would lead to competition problems in the market for online advertising". A risk which the FTC judges to be "improbable," arguing that competition in the sector is "vigorous and should continue to develop".

The Commission should meet the responsible people from Google in early January. The proposed transaction is causing concern principally for the threat it poses to private...

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