Google-Fitbit takeover: EU launches full-scale investigation

Google-Fitbit takeover: EU launches full-scale investigation

by Arianna Ardia-Wenink
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The European Commission will carry out a full-scale probe into Google’s takeover of Fitbit. The EU doesn’t fully trust yet Google’s promises about data.

The announcement follows a preliminary review, and threatens to derail the purchase of the fitness-tracking firm. It comes despite Google’s offer last month to not use Fitbit’s health data for ad targeting.

Google’s parent company Alphabet agreed a $2.1billion takeover of the wearable tech firm last year. However, the deal has yet to be completed.

In recent months, regulators and consumer groups have signaled their concerns about the $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, which was announced in November 2019. Google has responded to these concerns by promising not to use health data collected from Fitbit devices to target ads, and placing it in a data silo separate from its ad tracking business.

But for the EU these assurances were insufficient, as the information Google promised to place in the silo “did not cover all the data that Google would access as a result of the transaction and would be valuable for advertising purposes.”

In addition to its worries about Google strengthening its position in the ad business, the commission is also concerned about the effects the acquisition might have on the digital health market in Europe and interoperability of rival fitness tracking devices with Android.

The European Commission is launching a full investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit.  EU regulators are worried that the deal will entrench Google’s position as a market leader in online advertising by giving the search giant access to data collected from Fitbit’s health tracking hardware that can be used for personalized advertisements.

The investigation will be be completed in 90 days, by 9 December. Google said it would cooperate with the process.

[Source: The Verge]


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