By Nate Anderson | Published: October 05, 2007 – 12:50PM CT
If the news, which is based on sources close to the matter, turns out to be true, it won’t be particularly surprising. In addition to the European Commission’s own decision to launch an initial examination of the merger, opposition has surfaced in various places across Europe. BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation, has made the issue one of its current concerns.
In a letter sent to several EU officials, the group worried that “Google will vertically-leverage (bundle/tie) its keyword search dominance with DoubleClick’s leadership in online banner/video display advertising, and with its Google-YouTube dominance in video search. This vertical combination could give Google-DoubleClick clear dominance on the overall market for advertisements provided to third-party web sites.”
This worry is compounded by the fact that Google dominates the search market as well in most European countries. It has a 90 percent market share in Germany, 82 percent in France, and 75 percent in the UK (it comes in second in the Czech Republic, however).
Dr. Thilo Weichert, who handles data protection issues for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has also made his concerns known (German) to the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes. His letter expresses concern over data security issues and the privacy of personal information collected by the combined company.
An EU inquiry of the merger shouldn’t be nearly as painful as what Microsoft went through; Google and DoubleClick haven’t yet merged and aren’t accused of illegal behavior. The EU could place limits on Google’s expansion in the EU (something that looks unlikely here in the US), but this won’t be an issue of fines… not that this would make the Googlers any happier about having their collective will thwarted by a regulator.