Google defended its proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of Internet ad broker DoubleClick.com before a Senate committee, hoping to show that it isn't anticompetitive.
The deal is opposed by Microsoft and 'Net players on grounds that a merger would allow Google unprecedented power over the online ad business.
The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the deal.
In what may bode well for Google, none of the Senators indicated they oppose the deal.
However, several said they were worried that the deal raised privacy concerns. It would allow Google to collect and store information when Internet users click on banner ads — even more information than they have access to now.
Democratic Sen. Charles Shumer of New York said he'd been assured by Google that it would take steps to protect customers' privacy.
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith charges that Google is already the biggest power in search advertising and that acquiring DoubleClick would allow it dominate banner advertising as well.
"In short, if DoubleClick and Google are allowed to merge, Google will become the overwhelming dominant pipeline for all forms of online advertising," Smith said.
Online advertising is already a $27 billion business, said Smith, and has become the economic fuel powering Internet growth.
But David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, rejected the claim that the deal was anticompetitive. He said Google and DoubleClick don't compete head to head. Rather, he said, Google sells ads while DoubleClick is a broker between advertisers and Web sites.
"We've never sat around the boardroom and talked about out competition with DoubleClick. It's a very different business," said Drummond.