The European Commission has sent out questionnaires asking Google’s rivals whether its proposed $21 billion acquisition of Fitbit would harm competition. But there is already strong industry opposition to the purchase: 20 consumer groups have separately petitioned regulators in the United States and EU to reject it for privacy reasons.
“Regulators must assume that Google will in practice utilize the entirety of Fitbit’s currently independent unique, highly sensitive data set in combination with its own, particularly as this could increase its profits, or they must impose strict and enforceable limitations on data use,” a joint statement by the group reads.
Google rejects this claim.
“Throughout this process, we have been clear about our commitment not to use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads and our responsibility to provide people with choice and control with their data,” a Google statement retorts. “Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. And we do not sell personal information to anyone.”
Regardless, the EC questionnaires suggest that regulators in Europe could block the acquisition and trigger a new antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices. Or it could ask for certain concessions as a condition for approval.
Australia’s competition authority is also investigating the purchase and says it will issue a decision in August.