The European Commission investigates Google for the purchase of Fitbit. Regulators are concerned that this deal may further Google’s position as an advertiser through the use of health data used on Fitbit devices.
In the words of the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager: “These data provide key information about the life and health situation of the users of these devices. Our research aims to ensure that Google’s control over the data collected through portable devices, as a result of the transaction, do not distort competition.”
Google is once again in the eyes of the European Commission
Google’s purchase of Fitbit aroused concern from the start. As described by Reuters last year, the United States Department of Justice inquired about the agreement to prevent possible antitrust situations. At the time, Vestager itself also expressed its concern with the purchase, using the argument of the data acquired by Google and the vulnerability of users.
A report on Google and Fitbit was launched. The European Commission investigates Google which now concludes in the formal opening of a full investigation into online search and the use of Fitbit data, which in the Commission’s view could represent a competitive advantage and limit capabilities of its rivals.
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The Commission will further analyze the effects of the merger of the Fitbit database with Google’s on the health sector and whether Google would have the ability to degrade Fitbit’s interoperability with other systems, such as iOS.
On June 15, 2020, the Commission notified Google of its intention to initiate the investigation. On July 13, Google presented its initial position, insufficient for the Commission. The full investigation is now announced, which will have 90 days to proceed, until December 9, 2020, when a decision must be made.
From Google explain in a statement that they will continue to work with regulatory agencies. “We do not currently manufacture or sell portable devices such as those from Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Fossil, Huawei or Xiaomi. We believe that the combination of the hardware efforts of Google and Fitbit will increase competition in the sector, making the next generation of devices be better and more affordable. The deal is on devices, not dat.”
The company explains that “as we do with all of our products, we will give Fitbit users the option to review, move, or delete their data. And we will continue to support broad connectivity and interoperability between our products and those of other companies.”