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Google Finalises Fitbit Acquisition – Despite Data Privacy Concerns

David Paul

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fitbit

The deal was signed even though Google is still under several antitrust investigations.

Tech giant Google has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness firm Fitbit after the initial purchase of the firm in November 2019.

Google says the deal now puts them in line with rivals after falling behind in the smartwatch market.

In dual statements, the companies confirmed the deal, with hardware SVP Rick Osterloh saying in a post on a Google blog that the company had “entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit,” and that the deal was chance to “introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market”.

Google is attempting to re-assure users that its data would be protected after continuing to be under three antitrust investigations for its business practices. The US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation is still ongoing.

The firm said that they announced the purchase after gaining approval for complying with the DOJ for the previous 14 months, and after the waiting period expired without strict objection.

Osterloh said that the acquisition “has always been about devices, not data,” and that Google has been “clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy”.

Following a recent four-month investigation by the European Commission, Google agreed that it would not use health and location data from Fitbit devices for advertising.

In a statement online, Fitbit co-founder James Park said that the trust of Fitbit users would “continue to be paramount,” and that the firm would “maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control of your data and staying transparent about what we collect and why”.

Park continued: “Google will continue to protect Fitbit users’ privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators, confirming that Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data.”

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Google has been in the spotlight several times since its initial purchase of Fitbit in 2019. In November 2020, a group of 165 industry bodies called on EU regulators to impose antitrust action on Google for its business practices. The bodies said that firm had “gained unjustified advantages” through its search engine.

In August last year, Google argued the proposed News Media Bargaining Code that would force Facebook and Google pay smaller news organisations for content published on their platform, would result in an inferior Google Search and YouTube service has been denounced as ‘misinformation’ by the ACCC.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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