Google finally completed the ownership of Fitbit, a company that specializes in making Smart Watches to tracks the user’s health and fitness concerns to make their life healthier. Google rolls over $2.1 Billion to purchase the ownership of Fitbit in its announcement on 14 January 2021.
When Google announced to purchase Fitbit back in 2019, there were several issues raised about Google using Fitbit’s data to use their Google Ad Sense. As the crowned giant search engine was already at the pinnacle of using user’s data for displaying ads. In his blog post Google’s Senior Vice President, Rick Osterloh mentioned that purchasing Fitbit was “ an opportunity to invest more in the Wear OS as well as introduce made by Google wearable devices into the market.”
The news quickly spread out, the Regulators joined in. There were major privacy issues among users that, Google will use the Fitbit’s data for tracking it’s Google AdSense.
However, Google has approved that, it won’t use any Fitbit data, including GPS and Health data, collected from users of Fitbit, inside the European Economic Area (EEA) for targeted advertisements while approving major concessions to ease EU.
Also, Fitbit has issued a separate press release where it talks about Privacy for health and fitness data on a serious note. The release mentions that “ Fitbit Health and Fitness Data won’t be used for Google Ads”.
Things don’t only end here. Google also has to maintain a separate technical and business separation with Fitbit and the company itself. Also, Google has been ordered to give users inside EEA to give an option on how they can control their privacy. The users can allow or deny the use of Fitness Health Data to inform other products of Google like Google Maps, Google’s search engine. These approvals made by Google extends up to the web API of Fitbit and it’s own Android API that foster controversy. However, these commitments from google will only last for a decade.
In this context, Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice President of the European Commission says, “We can approve the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google because the commitments will ensure that the market for wearables and the nascent digital health space will remain open and competitive,” in a statement. “ The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for ads purposes, how interoperability between competing wearables and Andriod will be safeguarded and how users can continue to share their health and fitness data, if they choose to”, Vestager further adds in his statement.
Although, the European Commission has approved Google’s acquisition of Fitbit Australia still hasn’t. The Australian Regulators are still investigating the Acquisition. At the end of 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) proposed Google with 3 Concessions that Google had to approve.
According to Mr. Sims,“ The ACCC is seeking feedback from industry and consumers on the long term effectiveness and enforceability of Google’s behavioral undertaking to address the competition concerns raised by its proposed acquisition of Fitbit. The ACCC has not decided whether or not it will ultimately accept any undertaking”. In near future, the concessions may be added or deducted according to the feedbacks given to ACCC.
In the US, the Justice Department (DOJ), is still unsure about whether to pursue and spur action with Google regarding the Fitbit Deal or not. Previously, “the same DOJ had sued Alphabet Inc’s Google for violating antitrust law in its search and targeting advertisement business,” according to Reuters.
A spokesperson from Google also said, “ We complied with the DOJ’s (Justice Department’s) extensive review for the past 14 months and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection.” According to Google, they are responsible to answer any further questions and are willing to stay in contact with the DOJ anytime.
We can see improvements in Fitbit’s technology with the help of Google’s AI and innovative caring minds of Fitbit’s experts in the upcoming days. Till now, we can trust the Google Commitments of not using the Fitbit’s user data for targeted advertising and other purposes if the users don’t want to.
Fitbit is an International Company that produces smartwatches and trackers which help people to transform their lives by tracking their health and fitness activities. Fitbit already had 29 Million, Active Users, as per Google’s Blog Post.