Fitbit Google Deal Gets Green Light
Fitbit is closer to becoming a Google entity after the European Union gave the nod to the US$2.1 billion takeover of the health tracker business that has witnessed growth in Australia.
The EU approved the deal after Google’s pledged to maintain access for rival health and fitness apps and device makers for 10 years, all Google now is US approval.
Smaller rivals previously complained that the company’s promises were not enough, and that Google could easily cut off access.
The big search Company pledged not to use Fitbit’s data about users’ health and fitness for online advertising and to store Fitbit’s data separately from its ad services. The company will ensure that European users can grant or deny Google access if they want Google services to link up with Fitbit information. The EU said it can extend this pledge for an extra 10 years if necessary “because of Google’s entrenched position in the market for online advertisement.
The company also commits to license information that ensures functionality for other devices that want to work with an Android phone for Bluetooth, camera or location access.
“The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for ad purposes, how interoperability between competing wearables and Android will be safeguarded and how users can continue to share health and fitness data, if they choose to,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said in a statement Thursday.
Currently Google is facing mounting scrutiny of acquisitions that help them push into new areas.
Google announced its plans to buy Fitbit in November 2019, describing the bid for the smartwatch maker as a boost to its lagging hardware business.
Google said it understood “that regulators wanted to look closely at this transaction, and we have worked constructively with them to resolve their concerns, including the set of legally binding commitments.”
Its promises “build on assurances we have made since the beginning that we are committed to protecting Fitbit users’ privacy and will continue to invest in and support manufacturers and developers,” the company said.
According to Bloomberg, consumer and privacy advocates expressed disappointment at the EU approval. BEUC, a European consumer protection organization, said the decision showed “the inability of EU merger control to prevent companies like Google from ever expanding their market power.” Privacy International said the deal would “further strengthen Google’s capacity to exploit our data.”