Google said it didn’t buy Fitbit to get health and fitness data for millions of users. The EU wants the company to demonstrate good faith, including not using the information to enhance search and sharing it with competitors. Google bought Fitbit last year for $2.1 billion as part of its renewed strategy to develop and improve the wear OS ecosystem through more fitness tracking and health features.
while this makes Fitbit investors happy, it raises a lot of questions about user privacy, because Google’s advertising business relies on collecting as much user data as possible.
at that time, both companies knew that the acquisition would be a step-by-step process involving obtaining the necessary regulatory and shareholder approval. Google has become the subject of extensive antitrust investigations, and regulators are keeping a close eye on many of the search giant’s past acquisitions. In the European Union, officials have sent a 60 page questionnaire to Google and Fitbit’s competitors in the health and health care market to see if the acquisition puts them at an unfair disadvantage.
these concerns have been echoed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Council and the US Department of justice, who also want to know whether Google can effectively use Fitbit’s user data repository to strengthen not only its health sector but also its online advertising business.
according to the financial times, EU regulators have asked Google to promise not to use Fitbit’s data to “further enhance its search advantage.”. In addition, the officials asked the company to open access to the information to third parties.
last month, some consumer privacy organizations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the European Union called for a temporary halt to the Fitbit acquisition, pointing out that Google has a good record in actively collecting data and strategic acquisitions, which has given it a dominant position in some markets.
Google’s position on the matter is that it acquired Fitbit to strengthen its hardware, not to obtain fitness and health data from more than 29 million users. Users can expect to have the option to censor, move or delete their information, as they would with other Google services, the company said.
but if Google refuses to make the required concessions by August 8, the investigation could drag on for years, making it harder for the EU to stop the acquisition.