What you need to know
- Google has pledged not to use user data from its Fitbit purchase to target ads.
- Consumer advocacy groups expressed concern that the company would use its purchase to shore up its ads business, prompting an investigation by EU antitrust regulators.
- Google purchased Fitbit in 2019 for $2.1 billion, but government probes have slowed finalization.
After Consumer advocacy groups urged closer scrutiny of Google's Fitbit acquisition, the EU began to take a harder look at that deal. The primary concern, as per the advocates, was that Google would use Fitbit's data to more effectively deploy ad targeting and further its dominance in the digital ads sector. A new report from Reuters indicated that Google would be able to avoid antitrust probes on its Fitbit deal if the company pledged to not use user data to target ads. Google has now made that commitment, leaving the EU's regulators until July 20 to accept or carry out a more thorough probe.
"This deal is about devices, not data. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers' expectations that Fitbit device data won't be used for advertising," Google said in an emailed statement.
Reuters reported last week that such a data pledge may likely help Google secure EU approval for the deal.
Google hardly has a monopoly in the wearables space, and if it can convince the EU that it won't be using its Fitbit purchase to shore up those areas where it does have a monopoly (see - Chrome, ads), it just might be enough. The company has also been clear that its purchase of Fitbit was intended to help build up its Wear OS business, something that has been struggling to make an impact in the market so far.
"The wearables space is highly crowded, and we believe the combination of Google's and Fitbit's hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable," a Google spokeswoman told Reuters.
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