Fitbit Google Deal Could Get Scuttled As US Agencies Fight
The US Department of Justice could scuttle the $3 Billion acquisition of Fitbit by Google over data security concerns.
The department is already investigating Google data collection practises, with several US Government departments now concerned over the collection of private data by Google.
The DOJ is currently investigating Google for broader anti-competitive issues. In September, it asked Google for documents related to past FTC antitrust investigations.
In a direct link with the White House President Trump has openly criticised Google for alleged anti-conservative bias. In August, he said he was closely watching the way Google was collecting data.
The controversial merger was recently cleared for review by the DOJ after US federal law enforcement tussled with the Federal Trade Commission, which had also sought authority to investigate the deal, according to a source close to the situation.
Both agencies are concerned that a Google-owned Fitbit would result in private data, including sensitive health information, being made available to Google who on sells personal information to advertisers sources said.
Under the US Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, all large mergers must file proposals with both the DOJ and the FTC, but only one antitrust agency reviews the merger.
Earlier this year the FTC, created a “technology task force” to monitor anti-competitive behaviour in Silicon Valley.
That larger investigation was the main argument the DOJ made when asking for the Fitbit review in what a source described as a real “arm wrestle” between the agencies.
“The DOJ’s handling of Fitbit will give an early read on the Google investigation,” a DC source said.
The New York Post reported earlier this month, that the US “60 Minutes” reported that Google had taken down more than 300 ads from Trump’s re-election campaign recently for violating the search engine’s advertising policies.
Last month, Public Citizen and the Centre for Digital Democracy urged the FTC, thinking it would get the case, to block the merger, arguing it would give Google the chance to collect more personal data including sensitive health information.
“Through its vast portfolio of internet services, Google knows more about us than any other company and it should not be allowed to add yet another way to track our every move,” the groups said in a letter to the FTC.