Europeans to hold hearings on Google-DoubleClick and privacy

Privacy to be central to lawmaker hearings in Europe on Google's proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of the online-ad company.

Update Dec. 18 with exact date of hearing

Update 1:10 p.m. PT with Google comment

European lawmakers plan to hold a hearing next month to scrutinize the privacy implications of the proposed Google acquisition of online-ad firm DoubleClick, according to the Associated Press.

The proposed $3.1 billion deal has provoked complaints that it would give Google an unprecedented amount of information about consumers' online activities, with a view into not only what people search for, but exactly where on the Internet they go and what ads they click on.

The hearing will be held either Jan. 21, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who will be testifying.

A Google spokesman had this comment on the matter: ""We agree that privacy issues are important and have taken a number of industry-leading steps to improve privacy for our users. Given the rapid pace of change in our industry, these issues are best examined in the broader context of what all companies are doing in online privacy, not by singling out any single company. As the European Commission and FTC have both made clear, though, privacy is outside the scope of their competition investigations."

European regulators are reviewing the deal and expect to make a ruling by April 2.

Meanwhile, a decision from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is pending.

Some U.S. lawmakers are worried about privacy aspects of the merger. U.S. Senators held a hearing in September to discuss the deal.

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