BEUC expresses concern over DoubleClick acquisition by Google
(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)
A joined letter regarding the proposed DoubleClick acquisition by Google was sent to the Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes by BEUC (the coalition of all consumers' organisations in Europe) together with other consumer protection organizations from Germany, Italy and Spain.
The letter says that "the proposed transaction may have a negative impact on the selection of online content available to consumers and on privacy. (...) According to the information available to us it seems that, through its acquisition of DoubleClick, Google could monopolize the on-line advertising business, thereby restricting competition and raising privacy concerns over control of consumer data."
Cornelia Kutterer, the senior legal advisor for BEUC, explains the possible dangers of the new deal: "They have, so far, complementary databases with private data. If they merge them, this could lead to unmatched databases of profiles. If they can combine them, this could lead to a violation of user privacy rights."
Another expressed concern is that "it would be practically impossible for users after the merger to avoid all web sites serving Google/DoubleClick ads, consumers would have no real ability to choose services other than those served by Google, or to simply opt-out of sharing personal data with Google. To put it in simple words, a website will have to be part of the Google network of content sites if they are to be viable and visible in the commercial market."
Similar questions were raised in a previous complaint by US privacy and consumer NGOs sent to the US Federal Trade Commission that started an investigation on the matter.
Google privacy practices top the Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies, according with a recent report by Privacy International and its search retention policy is also investigated by the European data protection bodies.
Consumer organisations BEUC (EU level), vzbv (Germany), Altroconsumo (Italy)
and OCU (Spain): Letter to Commissioner Kroes on proposed acquisition of
DoubleClick by Google (27.06.2007)
International Herald Tribune: Europeans worry about Google's takeover of
Consumer groups alarmed by Google online ad merger (9.07.2007)
EDRI-gram: Privacy bodies investigate Google's data protection standards