EU Sets July 20 Deadline On Google, Fitbit Merger Decision

Google Fitbit

European Union (EU) antitrust regulators will decide by July 20 whether to approve Google’s $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, the California fitness tracker company, Reuters reported.

Google sought EU approval this week, according to a filing on the European Commission website, the news service reported.

It’s a potential deal that has raised concerns from consumer groups and privacy advocates.

The European Consumer Organisation, a consumer advocacy group, has warned that the deal could harm consumers and the wearables market, Business Insider reported.

“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 group wrote.

The European Commission has the authority to green light the deal with or without concessions. If there are major issues, it can launch a 120-day investigation.

If approved, the acquisition would provide Google with more tools to compete with Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi in the crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches.

While privacy concerns are not part of the EU antitrust review, the volume of health data generated from Fitbit devices used to monitor users’ daily steps, calories burned and distance travelled and how Google plans to use them, is expected to be examined, Reuters reported.

Last fall, Google announced its intention to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But given the deal’s size — Fitbit has 28 million users — red flags were raised.

PYMNTS reported in April that public advocacy groups wanted the government to examine the acquisition. The transaction was the subject of scrutiny by the Department of Justice, which wanted to make sure antitrust laws weren’t being violated.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Public Knowledge and the Consumer Federation of America said the government should act because Google has few direct competitors in its field.

The two groups said it is crucial to examine which assets could offer room for expansion if allowed to team up with dominant names in various fields.