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Google faces multiple privacy probes

Pledges 'constructive' dialogue with Europe

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Google is reported to be facing a fresh regulatory investigation: this time in the US, and into its acquisition of ad serving firm DoubleClick.

According to The New York Times, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation into the planned $3.1bn deal.

Quoting an unnamed source, the paper says an agreement was reached last week as to which of the FTC or the Justice Department would take up the inquiry into the much complained about acquisition.

The FTC says it doesn't comment on pending investigations.

Privacy groups including the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, one of the groups behind the original complaint, have welcomed the news.

But other industry watchers have warned that any investigation will have to focus on the effect of the deal on competition, rather than on privacy. "Strictly speaking, privacy is not an anti-trust issue," said Harvard University law professor Andrew Gavil.

Read more in the NYT here.

In faintly related news, Google confirmed over the weekend that it will cooperate with an EU investigation into its retention of users' search data.

The firm issued a statement saying: "We believe it's an important part of our commitment to respect user privacy while balancing a number of important factors, such as maintaining security and preventing fraud and abuse.

"We are committed to engaging in a constructive dialogue with privacy stakeholders, including the [European Commission privacy advisory group], on how to improve privacy practices for the benefit of Google users and for everyone on the internet." ®

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