Tuesday, May 11, 2021

EU gives go-ahead for Google’s $ 2.1 billion offer to buy Fitbit

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Google has obtained European Union approval for its $ 2.1 billion takeover of the Fitbit Inc. health tracker, a few days after regulators offers stricter rules to curb the push of powerful tech companies to new services.

The European Commission said Google’s pledge to maintain access to rival health and fitness apps and device makers for 10 years allayed concerns about the US tech giant’s move to data and devices. health. Smaller rivals beforecomplainedthat the company’s promises may not go far enough to prevent Google from blocking access to competing products or services in the future.

“The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for advertising purposes, how interoperability between competing handheld devices and Android will be preserved, and how users can continue to share health and fitness data, if they so choose. “Margrethe Vestager, EU antitrust chief, said in a statement Thursday.

The approval comes in a tough climate as Google and others face increasingly scrutiny over acquisitions that help them break into new areas. Google announced plans to buy Fitbit in November 2019, describing the offer for the smartwatch maker as a boost to its lagging hardware business.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., Said it understands that “the regulators wanted to take a close look at this transaction and we have worked constructively with them to resolve their issues, including the set of legally binding commitments.”

Its promises “build on the assurances we have given from the start that we are committed to protecting the privacy of Fitbit users and that we will continue to invest and support manufacturers and developers,” the company said.

Confidentiality concerns

Consumer and privacy advocates have expressed disappointment at the EU approval. BEUC, a European consumer protection organization, said the decision showed “the inability of EU merger control to prevent companies like Google from expanding their market power.” Privacy International said the agreement “would further strengthen Google’s ability to mine our data.”

Google is committed not to use Fitbit user health and fitness data for online advertising and to store Fitbit data separately from its advertising services. The company will ensure that European users can grant or deny access to Google if they want Google services to be linked to Fitbit information. The EU said it could extend the commitment for another 10 years if necessary “because of Google’s well-established position in the online advertising market.

The company is also committed to providing license information that guarantees functionality for other devices that want to work with an Android phone for bluetooth access, camera, or location.

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