EU seeks to press privacy probe in Google deal

European lawmakers plan to take the unusual step of pressing antitrust regulators next month to look at privacy concerns raised by Google's intended takeover of online ad tracker DoubleClick, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said 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 US Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing the sale, with the US looking mainly at privacy and EU officials focusing on how the deal could affect the internet ad market, the report said.

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 US Senate event held in September, the report added.

The EU assembly's civil liberties committee will ask EU and US regulators, European data privacy officials, consumer groups and internet companies, Google, DoubleClick and others, to speak at a hearing on either January 21 or January 31, the report further said.

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