The US agency responsible for monitoring online privacy issues, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has initiated a preliminary antitrust investigation into Google's proposed $3-billion acquisition of online ad company DoubleClick.

The New York Times says the investigation started late last week and that, depending on the seriousness of the antitrust issues raised, The FTC could decide to escalate it to a "second request" for information within a matter of days.
The very nature of the planned acquisition, coupled with concerns voiced by US privacy advocates and competitors, meant that a preliminary investigation was inevitable, say antitrust experts.
Days after the proposed merger was announced, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, the Centre for Digital Democracy and the US Public Interest Research Group filed a request for the FTC to investigate the privacy implications. The merger, they said, would "give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world."
Google says it is confident that the deal will withstand scrutiny.