EU opens probe into Google acquisition of Fitbit

The European Commission said on Tuesday it has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation to assess the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Alphabet’s Google.

The Commission said it is concerned that the proposed transaction would further entrench Google’s market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already “vast amount of data” that Google could use for personalisation of the ads it serves and displays.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy, said: “The use of wearable devices by European consumers is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

“This will go hand in hand with an exponential growth of data generated through these devices.

“This data provides key insights about the life and the health situation of the users of these devices.

“Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition.”

The Commission now has 90 working days until December 9, 2020, to make a decision.

Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president for devices and services, said in a statement: “This deal is about devices, not data.

“We’ve been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads …

“As we do with all our products, we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move or delete their data.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.