EU to give green light to Google’s $2.1bn Fitbit takeover

The European Union is expected to approve Google’s $2.1bn (£1.63bn) takeover of the wearable fitness tracker Fitbit,

The European Union is expected to approve Google’s $2.1bn (£1.63bn) takeover of the wearable fitness tracker Fitbit, according to Reuters. 

The European Commission had demanded the company make major concessions in order to alleviate concern that Google’s access to Fitbit’s health data would further enhance its “data advantage” in online advertising. 

Last month, the EU rejected Google’s commitment that it would not use data from the fitness tracker to create targeted advertising, labelling that promise as “insufficient”. 

But in a new round of concessions, the company said it would appoint a monitoring trustee – a post to be approved by Brussels – to ensure Fitbit data was not used to create personalised advertising over the next 10 years. 

Google also guaranteed rival wearable companies will be allowed to use Google’s Android and Cloud platforms and third parties will still have access to fitness data, as long as users’ consented. 

These new assurances mean the takeover is now expected to be approved. 

The European Commission was expected to decide on the deal by December 23 but reports suggest an announcement could come earlier than the deadline. 

“What is at stake here is pretty much our fundamental rights,” Privacy International’s legal officer Ioannis Kouvakas said. 

A tie-up could give Google sophisticated real time data about individuals’ health conditions and needs, which Kouvakas warned could ultimately be pooled together with the US firm’s already vast data troves. 

Google’s view that the “deal is about devices, not data” clashes with a wider nervousness that, through a series of acquisitions, the company has become too big and is damaging competition. 

This summer, the company  has been the subject of multiple antitrust investigations in the US and the EU. 

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