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ACCC Probes Google’s Fitbit Acquisition

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched an official inquiry into Google’s US $2.1 billion acquisition of popular fitness device company Fitbit, citing competition concerns.

The deal, initially announced last November, was previously a watching brief but now, the ACCC has ramped up its probe into a formal investigation.

A central issue concerning the ACCC is if Google will use Fitbit to deliver targeted ads to consumers.

The deal is also subject to reviews by other competition bodies across the globe.

(AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

The Google acquisition would significantly expand the digital giant’s data reach into wearable devices like watches, that focus on health data.

Competition regulators have also previously expressed concern over Google’s control and use of data, particularly in relation to location data in mobile devices.

ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, who launched an investigation last year into the market power of tech giants, said implications on competition and markets made by Facebook and Google need to be carefully considered.

Last November, he said the Google-Fitbit acquisition once again highlights the dangers of consumers losing control over their data when companies are merged or sold.

‘While parties frequently claim that they don’t have the incentive or ability to combine data sets, history tells us that incentives and ability can and do change, often over a relatively short period of time,’ Sims said in his speech.

But both Google and Fitbit have indicated that user health and wellbeing data would not be used for Google Ads. However, Sims said there was no guarantee that would be the case in the future.

It comes after the ACCC last year launched a Federal Court action against Google, allegation false and misleading claims over its use of location data.

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