- EU antitrust regulators have until July 20 to decide whether they will let Google’s Fitbit merger pass.
- If not, it will trigger a four-month investigation by the European Commission into the deal.
- In order to clear the July 20 deadline, Google might have to offer some concessions around how it will handle Fitbit users’ data.
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EU antitrust regulators have until July 20 to decide whether they will allow Google’s Fitbit acquisition to clear.
A filing on the European Commission website reveals that Google sent its request for EU approval this week, with a deadline of July 20 set for regulators to decide whether the merger can pass with or without concessions. The filing was first reported by Reuters.
If regulators don’t agree to pass the merger, it will trigger a four-month investigation by the European Commission into the deal.
Google announced late last year that it intended to buy wearables company Fitbit for $2.1 billion, but the merger immediately raised privacy and antitrust concerns due to the size of the acquisition and the scale of user health data Google would acquire from Fitbit. Fitbit currently has around 28 million users.
Experts told Business Insider that they believe regulators may demand concessions about how Google will handle the sensitive health data it is acquiring from Fitbit.
Google has already promised not to use this data for advertising purposes, but regulators may want Google to offer more transparency on what will happen with the data and specifics on how the company will comply with GDPR rules.
The BEUC, a European consumer advocacy group, recently warned that the deal could harm consumers and the wearables market.
“If Google acquires consumers’ data generated by the use of Fitbit wearables, including now COVID-19 related data, it would be able to use that data for its own benefit and could undermine the ability of other companies to bring new products to consumers,” the group wrote.
Meanwhile in the US, the deal is still under scrutiny by the Department of Justice. Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, told Business Insider that he is concerned about how Google will use the data it will acquire from Fitbit.
“When a company makes the vast majority of its profits from digital advertising, I think it’s naive to think it won’t use all the data it can to boost its bottom line,” he said.
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