The EU is launching a full-blown antitrust investigation into Google’s Fitbit acquisition

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

  • The EU has officially opened an investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit.
  • Google announced it planned to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November, but the deal has yet to get regulatory approval.
  • The EU investigation will focus on whether the acquisition would give Google an unfair advantage over competitors by hoovering up Fitbit user data.
  • Google’s senior vice president of Devices and Services put out a blog post on Tuesday defending the acquisition.

The EU has officially opened an in-depth investigation into Google’s planned $2.1 billion acquisition of wearables company Fitbit.

The European Commission, which was already conducting a preliminary investigation of the deal, announced the probe on Tuesday. The investigation will center on whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit will allow it to hoover up health data, which could in turn give Google an unfair advantage over competitors.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement:

“The use of wearable devices by European consumers is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. This will go hand in hand with an exponential growth of data generated through these devices. This data provides key insights about the life and the health situation of the users of these devices. Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition.”

Sources previously told Reuters a full-blown investigation was on the way, and that it will take about four months to complete.

Google announced it had agreed to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November. Last month the tech giant formally promised the EU it would not use health data from Fitbit to target ads at Google users.

On Tuesday, Google’s Senior Vice President of Devices and Services Rick Osterloh put out a blog post defending the acquisition.

“This deal is about devices, not data. We’ve been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads,” Osterloh wrote, referring back to Google’s promise not to use health data for ad targeting.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that addresses consumers’ expectations of their wearable devices. We’re confident that by working closely with Fitbit’s team of experts, and bringing together our experience in AI, software and hardware, we can build compelling devices for people around the world,” he added.

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