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Congresswoman Lofgren predicts Microsoft-Yahoo antitrust hearings

Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), whose home turf of Silicon Valley is abuzz with talk of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger, says she's "pretty confident" that a deal would spur government scrutiny.

SAN JOSE--Microsoft will likely face an antitrust fight in Washington for its proposed $44.6 billion buyout of Yahoo, according to California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

Lofgren (D-Calif.), whose home turf of Silicon Valley is abuzz with talk of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger, said Friday that she didn't want to say much on the topic, after being asked about it on a panel here at the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network conference.

But she said, "I'm pretty confident it will end up before the House Judiciary Committee."

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Signs that the deal would face scrutiny are already apparent. For example, Sen. Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of a Senate antitrust panel, has said that his subcommittee expects to hold hearings on implications of the deal should Yahoo accept Microsoft's offer. Privacy groups are also preparing to pressure the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission to block the deal or demand privacy-related concessions. Still, Yahoo has far from shown that it is amenable to any deal.

Lofgren added that it would be concerning if one entity were to control as much as 90 percent of the e-mail activity on the Internet. Apart from that, she said she's been disappointed in the "wimpy" antitrust division of the United States government.

Later, the panel took a lighter turn, when moderator Kara Swisher, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, asked Lofgren what her favorite new technology was. She named her Apple iPhone.

"But yesterday I just saw the software at Google and that looked promising, too," she said.