Regulation

EU’s Vestager Objects To Big Data Acquisitions After Google’s Fitbit Deal

Google, Vestager, EU, Competition, Fitbit, Android, Data, Privacy, News

European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has concerns about Google’s recent acquisition of Fitbit, as well as continued competition issues over how the company lists shopping search results, according to reports by Reuters.

Google made a deal to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion to help it get a foothold in the fitness tracker and wearables market, which has seen successful products from Apple and Samsung.

There’s a worry with regulators, Vestager said, because Fitbit is a data-heavy company.

“In general we have a concern if companies merge because of data,” Vestager said.

The Google deal has rivals calling regulators to make sure everything is on the up and up. Vestager said regulators need to consider how the acquisition affects other companies. Does the buyout create blockages for other countries? Does it make it harder to innovate or does it put privacy in jeopardy? 

Vestager has consistently taken Google to task for its anti-competition slights, its Android operating system and for brokering with search advertising, to the tune of more than 8 billion euros in fines.

Two years ago, Reuters reported, Vestager hit Google with a 2.4 billion euro ($2.65 billion) fine for favoring its own price comparison shopping service over rivals. However, Vastager said the fines didn’t lead to a change that helped competition.

After the fine was levied, Google changed its policy and started to let competitors bid for advertising space at the top of search results, purportedly to allow them an equal playing field to compete. It’s not working, Vestager said.

“We may see a show of rivals in the shopping box. We may see a pickup when it comes to clicks for merchants. But we still do not see much traffic for viable competitors when it comes to shopping comparison,” she said.

The Android fine was for pre-installing Chrome and its own search app on smartphones and notebooks.

“So now Google will launch a choice screen where competitors can be chosen, and also as the default, with prices that are much more affordable than in the first version. It remains to be seen how this will work but we will follow it very very closely,” she said.

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