The pressure is on as European Union (EU) antitrust regulators get ready to rule by July 20 on whether to approve Google’s $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, the California fitness tracker company, amidst concerns over competition.
There’s a new wrinkle in completing the deal. Unless Google ponies up some concessions, the tech giant will face an expanded European Union antitrust investigation over its bid to buy Fitbit, Reuters reported.
Reuters reported that Google could allay concerns over anti-competitive actions if it offered up a binding pledge to EU regulators. This would be similar to its commitment last year that it would not use Fitbit’s health and wellness data for Google ads.
The European Consumer Organisation, an advocacy group, has warned that the deal could harm consumers. “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 Brussels-based European Commission is the anti-trust body that can approve the deal or demand concessions. If it decides there are major issues, it can undertake a 120-day investigation.
While privacy concerns are not part of the EU antitrust review, it is reportedly also interested in privacy concerns — given the volume of health data generated from Fitbit devices used to monitor users’ daily steps, calories burned and distance traveled.
The fact that it’s a huge deal has of course attracted the EC’s purview. Google announced its intention to acquire Fitbit last fall. Fitbit has 28 million users, raising red flags with Google ownership looming.