Legislators Urge DOJ To Allow Google-Yahoo Deal

Attorney General Michael MukaseyA group of Democratic Congress members from California have asked the Department of Justice not to block the Google-Yahoo search pact. 

The 11 lawmakers warn in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey that a lawsuit to stop the arrangement could "detrimentally affect the online advertising market and electronic commerce."

Google and Yahoo in June signed a pact that calls for Google to power some paid search ads on Yahoo. The companies, which together account for an estimated 80% of the search market, voluntarily delayed the deal until October, to give the authorities time to investigate.

The Association of National Advertisers, World Federation of Advertisers and World Association of Newspapers have all recently weighed in against the deal, but the Justice Department has not yet said whether it intends to take action. The think tank American Antitrust Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for the enforcement of antitrust laws, recently issued a report advocating that the deal only go forward with conditions aimed at preserving Yahoo's independence.

A Google spokesman said the company is "continuing to have cooperative discussions with the Department of Justice about this arrangement and voluntarily delayed implementation in order to give them time to understand the agreement."

In the letter to Mukasey, the California representatives argue that non-exclusive deals between rivals are "standard among Internet companies."

"Microsoft had a similar arrangement with Yahoo and Google has similar arrangements with tens of thousands of companies," the lawmakers state. "We believe that robust competition serves the public interest but if the DOJ blocks this agreement we fear the threat of additional scrutiny may chill future agreements."

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, criticized the lawmakers for advocating a hands-off approach. "This letter could have been written by Google lobbyists, and reveals a shocking lack of concern for the public interest, let alone competition. These House Democrats are shouting 'deregulation' to the Department of Justice when they write that the deal should go through without regulatory action," stated Chester, who has advocated for the Justice Department to either block the deal or impose limits.

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