Technology

European Commission gives green light to Google’s Fitbit takeover

The European Commission has approved Google’s takeover of Fitbit following a four-month investigation.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced it had acquired the wearables company in November 2019, with the deal worth about £1.6billion ($2.1billion).

But the European Commission expressed concerns the merger would further enhance the tech giant’s position in the online advertising markets and an investigation was launched in August 2020.

Google has made a series of commitments to address the Commission’s concerns, including that it will not use health and fitness data gathered by Fitbit for Google Ads.

The company will also “maintain technical separation” from Fitbit data, which will be stored in a “data silo” separate from any other Google data.

Third party access to the Fitbit platform will also be maintained.

Margrethe Vestager, European Commission executive vice-president, said: “We can approve the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google because the commitments will ensure that the market for wearables and the nascent digital health space will remain open and competitive.

“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.”

At the core of the Commission’s concerns were Google’s access to increasing levels of data, which could be used to personalise the adverts it displays.

The investigation also focused on the potential for Google to restrict competitors’ access to health and fitness data provided by Fitbit, which is currently available through a Web API.

The restrictions could come “at the detriment of start-ups in the nascent European digital healthcare space”, the Commission had warned.

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