The European Commission has carried out an in-depth review of the proposed acquisition of Fitbitannounced. The competition officials suspect a conflict with Google’s position in the online advertising market. They want to rule out that the Internet company will further expand its market power with the help of data from Fitbit users.
“It is assumed that European consumers will use portable devices more and more intensively in the coming years”, said Vice President of the EU Commission responsible for competition policy, Margrethe Vestager. “This will be accompanied by an exponential increase in the data generated by these devices. These offer deep insights into the life and health of their users. Through our investigation, we want to make sure that the control that Google receives as a result of the transfer of data that is collected via portable devices does not distort competition. ”
The concerns of the EU Commission are directed against the “Fitbit database on the health and fitness of its users” and the “Technology for developing a database that is similar to that of Fitbit”. According to the Commission, Google could use both for the “provision of advertising services in the areas of online search and online advertisements” and “provision of ad-tech services” – and both are intended to provide Google with a “data advantage in the personalization of advertisements” procure.
Disadvantages should ultimately arise for advertisers and website operators. If Google expands its market power, they may have to pay higher prices and have less choice.
The assessment is based on the view that Google has a dominant position in the countries of the European Economic Area. In countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Sweden and Spain, the EU even assumes a strong market position for online advertising outside of social networks.
The in-depth investigation is intended to show whether the competition concerns are confirmed. The Commission will also look into the impact of the acquisition on the digital health services market. She also wants to check whether Google could be interested in the interoperability of “portable devices of its competitors with the Google operating system after the purchase of Fitbit“Restrict.
Google, however, emphasized in a blog entry that the merger with Fitbit will intensify the competition. “This deal is about devices, not data. We made it clear from the start that we would not use Fitbit’s health and fitness data for Google ads. ”The EU had even been offered to make a legally binding commitment in this regard. Fitbit users will also be given the opportunity to check their data, move to another service and delete it as part of the takeover.
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