After nearly a year of review, the Federal Trade Commission yesterday approved Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, an online advertising company. Though the merger stirred up antitrust worries because both companies are market leaders, privacy groups contended that the combined company would have too much access to personal information.
Two of the privacy groups called last week for the FTC’s chairwoman to recuse herself from the DoubleClick proceedings because her former law firm, Jones Day, had a Web page that claimed the firm was representing DoubleClick in the merger not only in Europe but also in the U.S. The groups said that caused a conflict of interest compounded by the fact that the chairwoman, Deborah Platt Majoras, is married to a current Jones Day antitrust partner.
Turns out, the flap was all for naught. The Web page was simply wrong. Jones Day is representing the company in Europe but not in the U.S. See this Legal Times piece for more detail on the firm’s Web page hullabaloo.
As for the merger, the FTC ruled solely on the antitrust aspects of the transaction, but the agency did release a set of voluntary guidelines on privacy. The merger is still awaiting approval in Europe.