Anti-trust bodies in the European Union (EU) will decide by July 20th whether to let Google’s $2.1 Fitbit acquisition pass. The deal has come under scrutiny from regulators due in part to privacy concerns.
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The first we’ve heard of the acquisition was late last year. Google agreed to pay $7.35 per share for Fitbit in an all-cash deal.
As is expected with all such transactions, regulatory approval is needed. In the US, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) opened an investigation into whether the transaction should be allowed to go through. This went through a second request review last April, meaning both companies were asked to provide the DoJ with more information.
But regulators are mulling over the deal in the EU, as well. The acquisition is currently undergoing a a review by the European Commission. As first reported by Reuters, a filing on the regulator’s website shows that Google sought its approval on Monday.
The anti-trust regulator has set a July 20th deadline to clear the deal with or without concessions. The other option is to open a four month investigation if it finds it has serious concerns.
Even though privacy issues are not part of the EU anti-trust review, there are concerns. Fitbit already holds a lot of data on millions of people, as does Google. Access to Fitbit data is likely to be important to the search giant but it may have to make compromises on how it handles user data, for example for advertising.
“If Google acquires consumers’ data generated by the use of Fitbit wearables, including now COVID-19 related data, it would be able to use that data for its own benefit and could undermine the ability of other companies to bring new products to consumers,” the BEUC, a European consumer advocacy group, recently warned.
If you share these concerns, there are things you can do with your Fitbit data before the acquisition goes through. For example you can export and delete your data before Google takes over.
Despite the regulatory scrutiny, the deal is expected to go through in the months ahead. And once it does, it will provide Google with the necessary firepower to compete with the likes of Apple, Garmin and Samsung in the wearables space.
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