European consumer organization BEUC said on Wednesday that Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, a fitness tracker company, may harm consumer interests and hinder innovation. In addition, BEUC said the deal will change the rules of the game in the digital health market.
Google announced the deal in November last year. By acquiring Fitbit, Google tried to compete with Apple in the competitive fitness tracker and Samsung in the smartwatch market. In this area, Huawei and Xiaomi are also major competitors.
However, critics say that the acquisition of Fitbit will give Google access to a lot of health data. The data comes from Fitbit’s fitness trackers and other devices. They are used to monitor users’ daily steps, calorie consumption, and distance traveled.
What Does BEUC Say About Fitbit and Google?
The members of BEUC include 45 national consumer organizations from 32 European countries. BEUC said that Google’s acquisition signifies that a few technology giants have completed another strategic transaction in the digital market.
BEUC said in a report: ‘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’
‘This could harm innovation and consumer choice in several markets such as online advertising, search, health and wearables. The proposed merger has the potential to touch not only digital markets but also a vital part of all European citizens’ lives, their health, and well-being.’
Google was fined more than 8 billion euros by the EU antitrust regulator for abusing market power in online search and Android smartphone operating systems. Google said it will guarantee the transparency of its collection of user data from wearable devices.
In this regard, Google said: ‘We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.’