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Google’s Fitbit Acquisition Faces Regulatory Hurdle, EU Privacy Body Warns Of Privacy Risks


Google’s Fitbit Acquisition Faces Regulatory Hurdle, EU Privacy Body Warns Of Privacy Risks
The proposed acquisition of the fitness trackers company Fitbit by Alphabet Inc-owned Google could face a problem after the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued a warning that this deal, which is worth about $2.1 billion, could pose risks to security of users. This warning adds on the already exciting opposition voices criticizing the proposed deal.
The benefits that Google wants to derive from this acquisition is a strong position in the already crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches, and compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung by combining the resources of Fitbit. This deal was announced by Google last November.
A very large cache of health data gathered from Fitbit devices would change hands and the United States based tech giant Google will be able to access the data which has been gathered and continues to be accumulated by the fitness tracker device making company’s instruments which records and monitors users' daily steps, calories burned and distance travelled.
The EU privacy watchdog said such access is worrying.
"The possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection," it said.
The EU regulator instructed both the companies to first make a detailed and complete assessment of the data privacy requirements that the companies needs to comply with as well as with the impact of the deal on data privacy in a transparent manner to address the potential privacy and data protection risks before appealing to the EU antitrust body for granting approval for the deal.
Concerns about big companies targeting data-heavy rivals were expressed in November by the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is set to vet the deal.
In an emailed comment to the media, the European Commission said that it had not yet been formally notified about the proposed merger of the two companies and the related issues of data security and privacy.
"It is always up to the companies to notify transactions with an EU dimension to the European Commission," it said.