Microsoft's Yahoo bid raises more congressional eyebrows

Another House committee plans to hold a hearing on recent developments in the online advertising world, regardless of whether the Microsoft-Yahoo deal goes through.

Here we go again.

Not content to be outdone by a rival committee, which promptly announced a February 8 hearing into the antitrust implications of Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid to swallow up Yahoo , another U.S. House of Representatives committee said it is planning to hold a hearing sometime this spring. The subject of the hearing will be the "tough competition and consumer privacy issues that have been and will be raised" by the potential deal. Yahoo, for the record, has .

"The recent announcement by Microsoft demonstrates that consolidation of companies in the Internet advertising world will continue, irrespective of whether this specific deal materializes," Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said in a statement Tuesday.

Rush, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce consumer protection subcommittee, threatened to have hearings on the Google-DoubleClick merger last year but never followed through. That deal, of course, has already received the green light from U.S. regulators, but Rush and committee ranking member Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said concerns remain about the privacy implications raised by consolidation of online search and advertising companies.

In addition to the public hearing, whose date has not yet been set, the committee chairmen said they would also be requesting "a confidential briefing from the appropriate government regulators."

Last fall, a Senate antitrust panel , though few members actually bothered to show up to ask questions. The chairman of that committee, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), has said he is considering scheduling a hearing on the Microsoft-Yahoo situation if Yahoo opts to take the buyout invite.

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    Anne Broache
    covers Capitol Hill goings-on and technology policy from Washington, D.C.
     

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