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More Polly’s Come Out Against Fitbit Deal As ACCC Looks At New Case Against Google

UK MP’s have come out against Google acquiring wearable Company Fitbit, as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission appears to be mounting a new case against Google following the collapse of former mobile advertising technology Company Unlocked which crashed into administration shortly before an initial public offering in 2018.

At the time the Company claimed that the big search Company had nobbled their app and crashed the Company because of their actions in banning the app from being downloaded. 

According to the Financial Review the move would thrust the ACCC into the huge global battle between Google and regulators – particularly in the US, where 50 states and territories have begun investigating potential monopolistic behaviour. Since 2010, Google has also faced a number of European Union antitrust actions, which have seen it fined more than €8 billion ($12.9 billion.)

Over the weekend Google announced that they were looking to acquire wearable Company Fitbit for US$2.1 billion, however an outcry from politicians concerned over Google getting access to confidential medical information is starting to put pressure on the deal.

While Google will be able to argue that there are no antitrust grounds for blocking the deal, due to their lack of competing wristband products, concerns have been raised on both sides of US politics about the amount of information that Google will inherit via the deal.

Currently Google knows who is downloading Fitbit apps from the Android Play Store but they don’t get information on Apple users who are believed to be the majority of Fitbit customers.

In Britain, opposition digital, culture, media and sport spokesman Tom Watson wrote to the nation’s competition regulator saying the deal should be blocked until an inquiry into anti-competitive practices is completed.

Rokt CEO Bruce Buchanan is also concerned greater privacy bureaucracy will entrench Google’s dominance against any emerging rivals.

Last week, the ACCC launched a case against Google in the Federal Court claiming that they misleading consumers about how to turn off location tracking in products such as Google Maps.

What was revealed was that Google has been basically running two location trackers and Android users who had turned off their location tracker were still able to be tracked.

Chris Hulls, the founder and CEO of ASX-listed Life360, a mobile app that lets users track others’ location and activities via their phones, said the ACCC’s pursuit of Google fitted in with a global push to enact greater privacy and data regulation.

He said companies were ultimately responsible for the ethical treatment of consumer data and needed to deliver higher standards in being upfront and transparent about how it is used.

“It needs to go above and beyond the fine print,” Mr Hulls said.

If the Unlock case goes ahead it will be based around whether Google breached section 46 of competition law, whereby a firm with a substantial degree of market power is prohibited from engaging in conduct that has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially reducing competition in a market claims the AFR.

Unlockd product allowed mobile operators to put advertising on phones running on Google’s Android operating system, which was viewed on unlocking the phone. Google claimed this violated its terms of service, despite earlier having approved it, and instigated a ban that removed almost all of Unlockd’s revenue streams.

It has been a year since Unlockd co-founder Matt Berriman had to admit defeat and close down his company after falling foul of Google.

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