#Google; #Investigation; #EU; #Fitbit
New York, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): An in-depth investigation is being opened by European Union (EU) officials into U.S. tech giant Google's plan to buy fitness tracking device maker Fitbit, because of the concern that deal would expand Google's "data advantage," and raise barriers for rivals to match Google's online advertising services, media reports said.
Google. Image credit: Twitter handle
Google's plan to acquire Fitbit was a bold step into health and fitness technology in its efforts to become a force in consumer hardware.
"This deal is about devices, not data," said Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice-president for devices and services. "We've been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads," he wrote in a blog post.
With its initiative, Fitbit had launched wearable fitness technology with devices to track activities such as running, cycling and swimming and record sleep patterns and heart rates.
Fitbit has more than 28 million active users worldwide and has sold more than 100 million devices.
Citing privacy and antitrust concerns, authorities have been called by privacy and consumer groups to block Google's deal to buy Fitbit in November for $2.1 billion US.
"Investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition," said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has been at the forefront of the movement to govern and control the likes of Google and its Silicon Valley rivals.
During her first five-year term as competition commissioner, she hit Google with nearly $10 billion in penalties for multiple antitrust cases involving its Android operating system, advertising business and shopping service.
The investigation also underscores the leading role of EU authorities in global efforts to regulate the big technology companies.