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ACCC & DoJ Not Happy With Google-Fitbit Deal, Legal Action Looms

Google has indicated its lucrative Fitbit acquisition is all but complete – but it seems Australia’s consumer watchdog isn’t letting it go through without one last fight.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may take legal action against the search engine giant after revealing concerns the deal would reduce competition in the market.

The ACCC is also not satisfied with the privacy concerns of the deal, particularly surrounding how Google would use the data of Fitbit’s 29 million customers.

Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit before the ACCC has finalised its merger review and the watchdog says it will now be conducting an ‘enforcement investigation’.

“As a result, and depending on the results of our investigation, we will consider whether to take legal action on this matter,” ACCC chair Rod Sims says.

“The market for wearable devices like those made and sold by Fitbit is rapidly evolving.

“We are concerned that Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, an innovative company with its own wearables operating system and high standards for privacy protection, could prevent or hinder future competition.”

In December, the ACCC rejected a pledge from Google which aimed to placate its competition concerns and the watchdog has now set a decision date of its review for March 25, 2021.

The ACCC will work closely with overseas agencies such as the US Department of Justice. Google has not secured approval of the DOJ either.

Google released the following statement after the ACCC’s decision to investigate the Fitbit deal.

“We have voluntarily engaged with the ACCC since the transaction was announced in November 2019 and we remain willing to continue engagement during their ongoing investigation. We’re confident this deal is pro-competitive and will result in greater choices and benefits for consumers, both globally and in Australia.”

More to come.

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