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Microsoft goes to war on Google

Protest at Google's DoubleClick deal

But David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, argued that DoubleClick has a different business model than Google. "We are confident that our purchase of DoubleClick does not raise antitrust issues because of one simple fact: Google and DoubleClick do not compete with each other," he said. "DoubleClick does not buy ads, sell ads, or buy or sell advertising space. We sell ads, DoubleClick delivers ads."

Microsoft's estimates of Google and DoubleClick controlling 80 percent of the display ad market is a "made-up number," Drummond added.

Just over a month after Google announced plans to acquire DoubleClick for US$3.1 billion, Microsoft announced that it would said acquire aQuantive Inc., a digital marketing services agency, for $6 billion. Yahoo and AOL have recently announced their own acquisitions in the online advertising space.

Cleland argued that the Google-DoubleClick deal represents the biggest threat to competition in online advertising. He called the US government's antitrust review "a watershed moment for Internet competition."

Google's own "uniquely monopolistic" mission statement says it wants to "organize the world's information," Cleland added. "No other entity currently has such a naked ambition to control or effectively corner the market for any of the world's commodities, let alone all the world's information," he said.

In addition to the antitrust issues raised at the hearing, Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, voiced concerns that the merger will have a huge effect on consumer privacy. The combined company would control a huge database of customer data, Rotenberg said.

Regulators in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe "appear to be in agreement that there is no merger that poses a more significant threat to online privacy than Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick," Rotenberg said. "This is going to be a real problem for the Internet if it's allowed to go forward."

Google believes "deeply in protecting online users' privacy," Drummond answered. Google has announced plans to make IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and cookies anonymous and the company is working on several other privacy initiatives, he said.

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