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FTC Approves Google-DoubleClick Deal 56

Bogie Lowenstein is one of many readers letting us know that the FTC has approved Google's acquisition of DoubleClick in a 4-to-1 vote. The FTC essentially blew off the privacy concerns about the merger, saying it lacked the legal authority to block the deal on any grounds except antitrust. The EU's review of the deal is still going forward, with a decision due by April 2, 2008; the privacy sensibility there is more sharply focused.
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FTC Approves Google-DoubleClick Deal

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  • by Hanners1979 ( 959741 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:25AM (#21765722) Homepage
    Rumours that the vote was carried out online, on a page which hosted a brightly coloured, flashing DoubleClick advertisment which proclaimed 'Approve the merger and win a PlayStation 3!!!' are still yet to be confirmed.
    • the results were 4:1 because the one who tried the ad (you are referring to) did so by double-clicking on the banner, and later realized that even a single-click took him to the same location.. he was pissed at this misnomer
  • Friction? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kilo_foxtrot84 ( 1016017 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:33AM (#21765852)
    Do you suppose this will cause contention between Google and Mozilla? I thought they had a mutually beneficial arrangement going... but what happens when Google owns DoubleClick, when one of Firefox's most popular add-ons--AdBlock--works to help us ignore DoubleClick ads? Will we see any sort of friction?
    • I doubt it would cause too much friction tbh. Mozilla provides an adblocker, but so does pretty much every other browser out there these days.
    • what happens when Google owns DoubleClick, when one of Firefox's most popular add-ons--AdBlock--works to help us ignore DoubleClick ads? Will we see any sort of friction?


      I doubt it [wikipedia.org] will be a serious problem in the near future. Long term though we can hope!
    • Re:Friction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:40AM (#21765942) Homepage Journal
      I don't think AdBlock, nor "The AdBlock Crew [mozilla.org]", are professionally affiliated with Mozilla. Besides, Google's main source of income is advertising and I don't think they've balked at this extension yet. Currently AdBlock blocks all Google ads very thoroughly.
      • by lb746 ( 721699 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:59AM (#21766222)
        The adblock extension is just not as exciting. I prefer editing my hosts file to redirect all requests for ad servers to my localhost where I have a lovely collection of 180x60 pictures of myself. Nothing makes a webpage more readable than ad's of yourself.
        • I used to do the same thing with host files pointing ad servers to 127.0.0.1. Noob that I was, I couldn't figure out why my personal website would appear in ad frames on other people's websites! Then it dawned on me that I was serving my website with IIS on my desktop computer.

          Nowadays I much prefer adblock. Sometimes domains host their own ads so I don't want to block the whole domain on every port.
    • Do you suppose this will cause contention between Google and Mozilla?

      Mozilla's still open source, right?

      Then I don't really care.
    • Hosts (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have doubleclick blocked in my hosts file. It makes slashdot load faster, incidentally.

      Though all the "sponsored links" in google search results are broken. I have to hack the url to remove the reference to doubleclick in order to get to the site.

      That is ok with me though...I don't often have much reason to click a sponsored link.

    • I doubt if Mozilla developed the AdBlock addon, rather it was the community. Mozilla can just we built the best extensible browser, and the community are using it their way. Its just beyond us.

      But off course this does not mean the cash hungry Mozilla Inc won't figure a way of blocking this good tool, after all Google nearly own it in terms of source of revenue and delicate nature of the relationship.
    • Adblock plus, with its default easylist + easyelement blocks google stuff already.
    • Do you suppose this will cause contention between Google and Mozilla? I thought they had a mutually beneficial arrangement going... but what happens when Google owns DoubleClick, when one of Firefox's most popular add-ons--AdBlock--works to help us ignore DoubleClick ads? Will we see any sort of friction?
      Maybe, but since I set ads.doubleclick.net to 127.0.0.1 in my HOSTS file I don't think I will notice much either way.
  • Good news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rinkjustice ( 24156 ) <<rinkjustice> ... Mrocketmail.com>> on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:33AM (#21765854) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad this went through. Maybe DoubleClick's practices and privacy policies will be more transparent now their part of Google. And from a marketing standpoint, I can see the contextual relevancy of advertising online become a whole lot more relevant to the user.

    But mostly because it pisses off Microsoft.
    • Oh yes, I can see this beneficial. Especially now that DoubleClick content will be able to choke even more web pages with bloat thanks to Google's pervasiveness. I especially can't wait to have the loading times for pages soar, as they are loaded with ads for things even more irrelevant to my existence than the current ones.

      The above was sarcasm.

      I'm not sure Google can apply it's "Do No Evil" policy to DoubleClick, since marketing is the true gate to Hades.

      • I think the reason that Google wants to purchase DoubleClick is because DoubleClick is more pervasive than Google in the display advertising market. Theoretically though, if they were to start targeting doubleclick ads using page content the same way they do with adwords then ads would likely become more relevant. Are they really so irrelevant now? They aren't for me, overall relevancy is way higher than through other mediums. I do have the same negative opinion of marketing. Advertising is probably no
      • Marketing has basically been the focus of Google's business model Google has had from the start.

        I'm just worried because Doubleclick has been blocked in my hosts file for so long that birds have nested in the pits it leaves on my RAM. Now that Google's involved, Doubleclick might actually get an ad through to me somehow.
        • Better add some new domains to your list:

          • GoogleClick
          • DoubleGoogle
          • Cloogle
          • Dougle

          It won't surprise me when they come up with new vectors to push the ads through.

    • Pisses off Microsoft? Microsoft was able to acquire Aquantive, a company about the same size (and in the same business) as DoubleClick in record time. (Both acquisition deals started about the same time.) Microsoft's laughing all the way to the bank, just because Aquantive kept a low profile in the press and DoubleClick didn't.
  • Perhaps this is one of those cases where the concerns are moot, given the opportunity for privacy abuse already present. The acquisition of DoubleClick will probably not serve to dramatically increase the potential and scope of privacy violations that are already possible for Google.

    So, even if we discount FTCs decision on the grounds they presented, there may be little reason to worry over the final outcome.
    • >The acquisition of DoubleClick will probably not serve to dramatically increase the potential and scope of privacy violations that are already possible for Google.

      But it would dramatically increase the potential and scope of privacy violations that are already possible for DoubleClick.
      • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother AT optonline DOT net> on Thursday December 20, 2007 @12:11PM (#21766370) Journal

        Except that the dictum "Do No Evil" will sweep down on DoubleClick, and lo, there will be a conversion, and DoubleClick will be truned from its evil ways... and peace will reign over the Net.

        • I assume when you mix a good company and an evil company, you get an evil company. Kind of like multiplying a positive number and a negative number.

          Personally, I think Google should change their motto to "Do no petty evil." or something like that. They'd still avoid running sweatshops or monopolistic business practices, but they'd get to have killer robots, sharks with lasers on their heads, and hidden fortresses. The geek street cred would be off the charts.
        • You don't think good fair kings don't have evil minions on the payroll?

          I think we just saw Google buy a minion.

          "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
  • ...that most banner ads will have a giant 'BETA' slapped across them? And frankly, banner are just a problem for folks you don't use the Firefox/Ad-Blocker/No-Script combo.... body blow! body blow! Put him away!!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is there a person on the internet who has not blackholed doubleclick? Of what possible significance are they any more?

  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @11:56AM (#21766174)
    I'm not sure about the privacy implications, but I'm glad that a federal agency finally recognizes its own jurisdictional limits, unlike some other agency I can think of who is supposed to be regulating radio broadcast spectrum allocation, not content on said spectrum. Still though, I hope it's not an excuse to pander to big business, like some of what the EPA does when they say that the lack legal authority, even when judges rule that they do not lack such.
  • IIRC, Bogie Lowenstein was the guy in "10 Things I Hate About You" that threw parties, perhaps involuntarily.
  • Living in Europe, I do not see that this is the end of the story.

    Quote [news.com]: "The European Commission, as it proceeds in evaluating the Google-DoubleClick deal, may have concerns with whether challenging the merger will ultimately be overturned by the European Court of First Instance, which serves as an appeals court. ... The Commission is seeking to make its (merger) clearances, as well as its prohibitions, as appeal-proof as possible," (emphasis mine)

    They will probably have a hard time doing so.

    CC.
  • Has this administration's FTC ever seen a merger it didn't like? I'm pretty sure they'd approve a merger of Standard Oil, Microsoft, AT&T, and Google into one enormous uber-monopoly that controlled everything on the planet.

    • How can they be a monopoly if they are controlling only one planet? Science has shown that there are lots of planets on which none of those companies currently operate. For example, did you know that the RIAA has never sued anyone living on Venus? And that the CIA has never overthrown a government on Jupiter?

      Earth: love it or leave it
    • by rayzat ( 733303 )
      The only two companies in that list that shouldn't be merged are Microsoft and Google. The other comapnies, Exxon, AT&T, and either Microsoft or Google could merge no problem. Event though they are huge, they don't have that much overlap in business and if the combined Googattxon tried to do something like block other search engines from AT&T network or something else they would shoot themselves in the foot so bad they would start falling apart immediatly. There are very few conglomerates that real
    • You make a valid point and I'm sorry to see you modded as Flamebait. In fact the trend against trustbusting goes back to WWII -- to the grave detriment of the Pharma and Media markets.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This merger will hurt google. Googles positive reputation can only be dragged down by affiliating itself with double-click.

    I love google, but ill block them at my router before i let doubleclick into by boxes.
    • by Jeng ( 926980 )
      Ridding the internet of Double Click is about as not-evil as they can get.

      Google does not need Double Click, Google knows that people hate Double Clicks stupid annoying ads, what better way to make the internet better than getting rid of one of its major annoyances?
  • ... You can protect your privacy against Double-Click. Most privacy enforcement solutions rely on proxy and anonymity and remain useful for Google-Click. Only few dedicated solutions (like Scroogle) are concerned by this merge.

    But is it really that bad? If you think about it with android Google will soon know more about you I guess. Is Double-Click really a threat when users choose to let Google logging their Web History? The only point is that now Google won't say "If you don't like that, you can use ano
  • Blew off? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @02:03PM (#21768062)
    The FTC essentially blew off the privacy concerns about the merger, saying it lacked the legal authority to block the deal on any grounds except antitrust.

    So... working within what you perceive as the legal limitations of your office is just "blowing off" the problem. You're right--we need more people in government seizing power for our own good.
    • Isn't owning almost all internet-use data of the US population (and more!) an issue for anti-trust? With their "monopoly" on gathering this data, their marketing possibilities by far exceed that of any competitor. [ tin foil hat mode ] Maybe a single and fairly complete database of browsing data will come in handy for some government institutions?
      • With their "monopoly" on gathering this data, their marketing possibilities by far exceed that of any competitor.

        I think that would only apply if there were such competitors, or if they were trying to emerge. You can't be busted for cornering the market on a market that doesn't exist yet.

        (Anyway, I feel like I should say that this result sucks, but it sounds like it was arrived at by the rules, which means fundamentally that the rules sucked first.)
  • Speaking as someone who has to use DFP (Doubleclick For Publishers) to put up new adverts and such - I can tell you the current system is a total pile of utter garbage (think full on ActiveX) and I cant wait for Google to hopefully get in and clean up the interface/system.
  • My answer: Privoxy [privoxy.org].

  • I'm so tired of privacy nuts. There is no such thing as privacy or anonymity...especially on the internet. If you don't want Google to know anything about you, don't use their service. No one is forcing you to. Likewise, don't do business with anyone using Double-click's service.

    In fact, if you want real privacy, go live in the woods a cut yourself off from humanity. Of course, the animals will know where you eat, sleep, and shit. Sorry.

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all." -- Nathaniel Branden

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