European lawmakers plan to take the unusual step of pressing antitrust regulators next month to look at privacy concerns raised by Google Inc.'s intended takeover of online ad tracker DoubleClick. The $3.1 billion deal has spurred rivals and consumer advocates to complain about the control they say it would give Google, the world's most popular search engine, over Internet advertising and personal information. Both the European Commission and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing the sale, with the U.S. looking mainly at privacy and EU officials focusing on how the deal could affect the Internet ad market. They plan to complete their inquiry by April 2.
Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch Liberal Member of the European Parliament, said European politicians would ask their regulators to take privacy into account and would hold a January hearing on it, echoing a U.S. Senate event held in September. "It's drawing attention to the fact that our reality is changing," in 't Veld told the AP. "There are lots of companies collecting personal data; we volunteer our personal data to get services." The EU assembly's civil liberties committee will ask EU and U.S. regulators, European data privacy officials, consumer groups and Internet companies - Google, DoubleClick and others - to speak at a hearing on either Jan. 21 or Jan. 31.
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