Sign outside Google headquarters
Sign outside Google headquarters - 
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KAI RYSSDAL: Google has finally gotten the present it's been hoping Uncle Sam would finally pony up. Today the Federal Trade Commission voted to let the online giant go ahead and buy up the ad company DoubleClick. The sticker price was just over $3 billion when the deal was announced last April. Ever since then privacy advocates have warning of terrible consequences. And it turned out the European Commission has been listening. Marketplace's Lisa Napoli reports.

LISA NAPOLLI: First let's look at what Google gets for its billions. DoubleClick places and tracks 40 percent of the banner and display ads online. Google makes its vast fortunes by selling ads tailored to your search.

Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy says together the two companies add up to:

Jeff Chester: A data-mining colossus that will be able to track all of us wherever we go online, and then use that highly detailed information to target us with all kinds of advertisements.

If you're among advertisers who spend $20 billion a year online, that information makes your ads more effective. But Joe Turow of the Annenberg School of Communications says if you're a Web surfer, it flushes your privacy down the drain.

Joe Turow: It gives Google technology to identify the information and use it in ways that it didn't have before. In digital marketing the name of the game is knowing information about the people you're trying to target.

Turow says concerns about privacy and market dominance have given the European Commission pause.

Turow: They understand that you really can't talk about the digital marketing world today without talking about privacy.

The deal can't go through without the commission's approval. They'd already asked for more time to review it. April 2nd is the deadline.

In Los Angeles, I'm Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.