FTC chair won't step down from Google review

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WASHINGTON -- The head of the Federal Trade Commission said Friday she won't remove herself from an antitrust review of Google Inc.'s purchase of online advertising company DoubleClick, rebuffing requests from privacy groups opposed to the transaction.

Deborah Platt Majoras, chairwoman of the FTC, said she has reviewed a petition from the groups with the agency's ethics official and determined that "the relevant laws and rules...neither require nor support recusal."

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy said in a petition Wednesday that Majoras' husband, John M. Majoras, is a partner at the Jones Day law firm, and alleged that Jones Day has represented DoubleClick on its acquisition by Google, the leading Internet search company.

The relationship "calls into question the ability of the commission to render decisions that are fair and just," the groups said.

FTC officials responded that Jones Day has represented DoubleClick before the European Commission but has not appeared before the FTC.

Commissioner William E. Kovacic, whose wife, Kathryn Fenton, is also a partner at Jones Day, said he would also not remove himself. Kovacic was not mentioned in the privacy groups' petitions.

Google shares rose $2.21 to $696.26 in midday trading Friday.

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