Before Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) has even asked its permission to take over online display ad network DoubleClick, the European Commission has started its deliberations – by asking Google’s customers what they think. Reuters reports two anonymous sources as saying the EC has sent questionnaires to Google customers on the $3.1 billion acquisition, which was agreed in April. Google was expected to seek the EC’s formal approval in mid-September for the takeover, which would create a web ads powerhouse and which is facing scrutiny over competition concerns. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is currently looking at the deal proposal; here, Europe is getting the ball rolling with proactively. Reuters’ source: “We believe they have taken this step because the Commission believes this will be an unusually complex and contentious merger.”
In recent months, Europe has kept a watching brief on Google, which in July cut retention of search user logs from 24 to 18 months after privacy performance research from an independent watchdog rated the search site worst and prompted the EC to ask Google to justify itself. Beuc, a pan-European umbrella for member states’ pro-consumer groups, also wrote to the EC’s competition commissioner to protest the DoubleClick acquisition would result in a dimunition of choice.