WASHINGTON—Saying the move sparked antitrust concerns, as well as fears about the increased concentration of power in fewer corporate hands, the Federal Trade Commission questioned Tuesday the merger of Google with the U.S. government. “The proposal to merge Google, the three branches of government, and all 137 federal agencies under the parent company Alphabet does raise some alarm bells,” said FTC chair Lina Khan, who requested a temporary pause on the merger announced yesterday by President Joe Biden and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, so officials could evaluate whether it potentially ran afoul of federal rules. “Combining the U.S. government and Google may not be without its positive effects, but frankly we at the FTC are struggling to see what real benefits American consumers will derive from combining one of the nation’s largest search engine, online advertising, and cloud computing companies with one of the nation’s largest providers of social services and public education. The merger of Google’s ad division with the Pentagon alone raises some fairly serious ethical concerns. Ultimately, we’re willing to hear it out, of course, but we must express our concerns about the precedent that merging the entire structure of the U.S. government with Google sets for corporate oversight going forward.” At press time, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation had approved the merger by a unanimous vote.
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