European Union antitrust regulators announced Tuesday they’ll launch an investigation into Google’s plan to buy Fitbit.
Google, a U.S. tech giant owned by Alphabet, is hoping to break into the wearable technology market, and hopes to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Fitbit makes wearable watch-like fitness devices. A variety of groups advocating for privacy and consumer rights want to block the deal because of antitrust and privacy concerns.
The EU and many other groups say they are concerned the deal will increase the amount of data to which Google has access, making it increasingly difficult for other companies to compete effectively in the online advertising space.
The EU’s executive commission stated “the proposed transaction would further entrench Google’s market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already vast amount of data that Google could use for personalization of the ads it serves and displays.”
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager added that 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.”
Google’s senior vice president for devices and services, Rick Osterloh, countered that “this deal is about devices, not data,” and he added that “we’ve been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads.”
The EU antitrust enforcer said this promise alone was not adequate.
Fitbit was one of the first companies to market wearable fitness devices, which are used to monitor physical activities, heart rates, sleep patterns, and a variety of other factors. Fitbit has more than 28 million active users, and upwards of 100 million devices have been sold.