Although Google is celebrating the conclusion of the acquisition of Fitbit, a company known for its bracelets and smartwatches for the fitness market, the business is still not as “closed” as it appears. At least not according to US government regulatory agencies.
Announced on November 2019 for US $ 2 billion (about R $ 10,6 billion at the current price) the purchase of Fitbit has always been subject to approval by agencies that regulate the market, both in the USA and in the European Union.
The fear was that with the operation, Google would concentrate too much power over this segment in its hands and use it to crush competitors, such as Garmin. Or to take advantage of Fitbit users' data to further enrich the profiles used in their advertising networks, leading to an invasion of privacy.
After all, it is one thing to know that you like cars, another to know that your heart races whenever you pass in front of a dealership of your favorite brand. Or knowing that a consumer is more likely to buy a certain product during the menstrual period and exactly when it happens.
So the company makes a point of mentioning that the acquisition of Fitbit was because of the devices, not the data. “Your privacy and security are essential […] and we are committed to protecting your health information and putting you in control of your data,” says Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Devices and Services at Google.
According to Osterloh, the company has worked with regulatory agencies around the world to implement measures to meet consumer privacy expectations, including a series of commitments that health and wellness data will not be used to display ads and will be stored separately. .
On December 17 the European Union approved the acquisition of Fitbit, leaving only the “blessing” of the US government. But according to journalist Leah Nylen of the Politico website, the analysis of the deal by the US Department of Justice's Antitrust Division is still ongoing.
Nylen posted on his Twitter account a statement from the division, which states that “it continues to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit could harm competition and consumers in the United States. The division maintains its commitment to conduct this analysis in the most detailed, efficient and fast way possible ”.
According to TechTimes, a Google spokesman said the company collaborated with the extensive review process carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the past 14 months, and concluded that it respected a “waiting period” that ended without DOJ objection . Hence the announcement that the acquisition has been completed.
The spokesman said that Google will continue to contact the DOJ and that the company is committed to "answering any additional questions".