Briefing

EU to investigate Google-Fitbit deal if privacy concerns are not addressed

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Europe’s antitrust regulator is preparing to launch a four-month probe into Google’s US$2.1-billion acquisition of Fitbit, unless the Alphabet subsidiary makes decisions to address privacy and competition concerns, such as by signing a binding pledge to not use Fitbit’s health and wellness data for advertising. Google has until July 13 to make concessions. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Last week the EU regulator sent 60-page questionnaires to Google and Fitbit’s rivals, asking them to assess how the acquisition will affect the digital health-care space. This concern has been shared among advocacy groups, which have warned that if the merger is approved, Google could exploit Fitbit’s data-collection capabilities to strengthen its online advertising business. Google said last year that it would not use Fitbit’s data for ads. A decision from EU antitrust regulators on whether or not to clear the deal is expected by July 20. Australian regulators are probing the acquisition over similar concerns, with a decision expected August 13.