- The European Commission has launched an investigation of Googleâ€™s Fitbit acquisition.
- Officials are concerned Google may use fitness data to get unfair advantages in search ads.
- Theyâ€™re also worried Google could limit access to rival wearables on Android.
The European Commission has launched an investigationÂ into the purchase (viaÂ Reuters) over concerns Google might misuse Fitbitâ€™s health data to further personalize search ads and give the internet giant an unfair advantage over rivals. Marketers and publishers could â€œface higher prices and have less choice,â€� the Commission said.
Officials were also concerned that melting the Google and Fitbit databases might skew a â€œnascentâ€� digital healthcare section in Europe, and that Google might have an incentive to limit support for rival Android-compatible wearables like Samsungâ€™s Galaxy Watch line.
Google had promised in mid-July that it would create a â€œdata siloâ€� that fenced off wearable data from other information. However, the Commission determined that the silo would be â€œinsufficientâ€� to offset concerns â€” the container wouldnâ€™t cover all the data Google would receive through the deal.
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In response, Google senior devices VP Rick Osterloh published a blog post stressing his companyâ€™s view that the Fitbit deal was â€œabout devices, not data.â€� The executive promised that Google would give Fitbit users control over their info. He further argued that there was â€œvibrant competitionâ€� in wearables between brands like Apple, Samsung, and Wear OS partner Fossil, and that the Fitbit deal would foster competition that improved quality while lowering prices.
The Commission has until December 9 to decide whether or not the Fitbit deal is anti-competitive. Thatâ€™s a significant amount of time to wait, but might be the last major roadblock for the deal if EU regulators donâ€™t find serious issues. The US Justice Department hasnâ€™t formally launched an investigation despite earlier murmurs, and Australia has been relatively quiet as well. If there are objections, however, Google might have to make additional concessions or even risk dropping the acquisition entirely.