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Monday, October 19, 2020

EU Antitrust Regulators Extend Google-Fitbit Deal Investigation to December 23

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The European antitrust regulator has reportedly extended its investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit to December 23. In an official statement, the European Commission (EC) said that it was extending the deadline “in agreement with the parties”. According to the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, the investigation “aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition”.

The EU last month launched a full-scale antitrust probe into Google’s $2.1 billion offer to acquire Fitbit following the end of its preliminary review. While the EU believes that a tie-up between the two entities could expand Google’s ‘data advantage’, the US tech giant has steadfastly denied such charges. In a statement released earlier in the year, the company insisted that: “… the combination of Google and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable”.

Google, last November, confirmed plans to acquire Fitbit after media reports suggested that such a deal was in the offing. Subsequent reports suggested that Facebook was also interested in the deal before backing out over pricing concerns. While the social networking giant was only willing to pay around $1 billion, Google ended up bagging the deal with its $2.1 billion offer.

The acquisition, however, has attracted attention from antitrust regulators worldwide, many of whom have expressed concerns that Google might use private health data to boost its search algorithm or for targeted advertising. Google, however, has pledged not to use any of the data for targeted ads.

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