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FTC Talks Online Privacy Today

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The two-day town hall meeting about behavioral targeting, announced amid privacy concerns about Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick, begins today in Washington DC.

In August, the Federal Trade Commission agreed to hear concerns about behavioral targeting in online advertising. This came in response to privacy complaints made by a trio of organizations, who believe Google’s deal will put too much information in one company’s control.

A number of topics will be discussed during the FTC town hall, including a look back at the changes in online advertising over the past seven years. The FTC helda similar public workshop about online advertising back in 2000, where they reported on the impact of profiling Internet users for ad targeting.

Google plans to participate in the event. "It’s a good time to explore the privacy implications of new ad technologies, and in an industry-wide way," Google policy counsel Pablo Chavez said.

This charged interest in online privacy comes as approval is expected for Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick. Though significant arguments citing the vast amount of personal information Google could tap have been made, the determination of whether the deal should go through will hinge on competitive impact, not privacy concerns.

Australian regulators have already given the deal their approval, agreeing with Google’s claim that the purchase of DoubleClick for its display ad serving business does not affect Google’s search advertising dominance.

The European Competition Commission has already said they would not look at privacy implications of the deal, and it is thought that Google made changes to how the two businesses would interact based on the Commission’s opinions.

Both Google and industry observers expect the deal to receive approval in the US from the FTC. Though today’s town hall discussions may highlight some of the problems with Google and DoubleClick getting together, it appears they won’t be sufficient to derail the deal.

FTC Talks Online Privacy Today
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