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BREAKING NEWS: ACCC Goes After Fitbit Google Deal Full Investigation

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission who were already targeting Google over their sales practices is now taking a look at their proposed acquisition of Fitbit.

Back in November Google announced a proposed US$2.1 billion-dollar acquisition of the fitness tracking Company who also collects medical data such as heart rate. Now the ACCC wants to probe issues associated with the data being captured from the Fitbit devices and how Google may use that data.

The ACCC has now turned their initial examination of the deal into a full-blown investigation.

Among issues worrying the ACCC is whether Google uses Fitbit to deliver targeted health ads.

In both Australia and the USA, the Google acquisition is being investigated as to whether it would significantly expand Googles data reach across wearable devices like watches with a focus on health data.

ACCC boss Rod Sims has said the implications of acquisitions made by the likes of Google and Facebook need to be carefully considered.

He said in November the Google-Fitbit deal once again highlighted the dangers of consumers losing control of their data when companies are sold or merged.

“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,” he said in a speech.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has also ordered Google to conduct “a full assessment of the data protection requirements and privacy implications” of its acquisition of Fitbit.

In a plenary session on February 20, concerns were raised about the privacy implications of a merger of obligations under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPB).

The Board urged both firms “to mitigate possible risks to the rights to privacy and data protection before notifying the merger to the European Commission”.

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

The ACCC last year launched a Federal Court action against Google alleging false and misleading claims over the use of its location data.

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