August 05, 2020

EU opens investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit

[ by Legal Era News Network ]


The European Commission on August 4 said it had opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google under the EU Merger Regulation. Google had announced plans to buy the California-based fitness tracking company for $2.1 billion in November 2019.

The regulator 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.

“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,” European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. According to the European Commission, data collected via wrist-worn wearable devices might significantly benefit in online advertising and give Google the edge in personalising search engine ads thereby making it difficult for rivals to compete.

Google said the combination of Google and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will likely increase competition in the sector, making the next generation of devices better and more affordable.

“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,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior Vice President, Devices & Services, wrote in a blog post.

“We recently offered to make a legally binding commitment to the European Commission regarding our use of Fitbit data. As we do with all our products, we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move or delete their data,” Osterloh said.

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