BeUC, a European consumer group, said on Wednesday that Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, a fitness tracker, could harm consumers and hinder innovation. In addition, BEUC says the deal changes the rules of the game in the digital health market.
Google announced the deal in November, buying Fitbit, which is trying to compete with Apple and Samsung in the highly competitive fitness tracker and smartwatch market. Huawei and Xiaomi are also major competitors in this area.
Critics, however, say the acquisition of Fitbit will give the US tech giant access to vast amounts of health data. The data comes from Fitbit’s fitness tracker and other devices used to monitor users’ daily steps, calories and distance travel.
BEUC’s membership includes 45 national consumer organizations from 32 European countries. BEUC said Google’s acquisition marks another strategic deal for a handful of tech giants in the digital market.
“If Google obtains consumer data generated by using Fitbit wearables, including currently related to COVID-19, it could use that data for its own benefit while weakening the ability of other companies to launch new products to consumers,” BEUC said in a statement. “
“In this way, it could undermine innovation and consumer choice in multiple markets, including online advertising, search, health and wearables.” As a result, Google’s acquisition of Fitbit has the potential not only to reach the digital market, but also to reach an important part of the lives, health and well-being of all European citizens. “
Google has been fined more than 8 billion euros by EU antitrust regulators for abusing market power in web search and Android smartphone operating systems. Google said it would ensure transparency in collecting user data from wearables.
“We will never sell personal information to anyone, and Fitbit’s health data will not be used for Google advertising,” Google said. We will have the right to view, move or delete their private data freely. “