Google’s protracted deal to acquire fitness device maker Fitbit has finally won EU antitrust approval on Thursday.
Google’s had announced its intention to purchase Fitbit for $2.1bn (£1.63bn) back in November 2019, but almost immediately after concerns were raised the deal would give Google access to potentially sensitive data about people’s health and lifestyle.
Those concerns prompted European Union antitrust officials to begin an official investigation in August. The EU then extended the investigation until the end of the year, yet approval of the deal seemed certain after it was reported in September that Google was prepared to make fresh concessions.
The European Commission said it had agreed concessions with Google, valid for 10 years with the possibility of another 10-year extension.
It is reported that Google will store Fitbit user data separately from Google data used for advertising, and will not use data from Fitbit and other wearable devices for Google Ads.
Users can decide whether to store their health data in their Google or Fitbit account.
Google will also maintain access to users’ health and fitness data to software applications through Fitbit Web API software, without charging for access and subject to user consent.
In addition, it will continue to provide a free API software license for core functionalities to Android device makers, allowing their gadgets to function with Android smartphones.
“We believe this deal will spur innovation in wearable devices and enable us to build products that help people lead healthier lives,” Google was quoted as saying.
A formal investigation of the Fitbit had long been expected, after officials had sent two detailed questionnaires to Fitbit’s competitors in an effort to assess the deals potential impact on competition.
Pressure to act increased in July this year when twenty advocacy groups from the United States, Europe, and Latin America signed a joint statement, saying the deal needed close scrutiny.
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