Statement on the EC Decision on Google/DoubleClick
Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy
By failing to impose safeguards, EC regulators have helped strengthen a growing digital colossus that will now be in a dominant position to shape much of the global future of the Internet and other online media. The EC [DG Comp] appears to have embraced the FTC’s flawed analysis of the online ad market. It represents the failure of antitrust regulators to understand and respond to the growing consolidation of control over online ad delivery, data collection, and the funding of content. This decision will have profound and unfortunate consequences for the Internetâ€™s evolving role as a democratic communications medium.
EU and US antitrust regulators have also perversely set the stage for Microsoft’s goal of acquiring Yahoo!, furthering more concentration of control in the new media sector. Instead of ensuring competition, DG Comp and the FTC have literally paved the way for the emergence of a global digital duopoly over online advertising (which is the principal way online content is funded). By permitting Google to dramatically grow in clout, regulators will have to likely enable the further growth of a # 2 competitor to Googleâ€”which will be Microsoft.
US and European policymakers must reform the antitrust process to reflect the realities of the digital market era, where competition, data collection, and content creation are seamlessly intertwined. In todayâ€™s digital marketplace, the company that controls the most data about consumers and has the global reach to connect to them raises both anticompetitive and privacy concerns. An antiquated and piecemeal antitrust approach fails to protect citizens, consumers, and competition.
The Center for Digital Democracy, which opposed the Google/DoubleClick merger in both the U.S. and in the EC, will continue to press policymakers to play a more responsible forward-thinking approach to competition and consumer protection for online and interactive media.