Google’s $2.1bn Fitbit takeover could be blocked over privacy concerns
Google’s $2.1 billion (£1.63 billion) takeover of Fitbit has raised “serious concerns” among politicians and privacy campaigners who are calling for the deal to be blocked.
Last month Google’s owner Alphabet tabled a bid to acquire smartwatch giant Fitbit in a bid to secure a foothold in the wearables market, sending shares in Fitbit up 27 per cent.
However, privacy and antitrust campaigners are now calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the deal over concerns about the swathes of data which will be made accessible to Google.
Millions of users’ heart-rate, sleep and personal data would be added to Google’s already eyewatering cache of data, which chair of the House antitrust committee David Cicilline said would “entrench its monopoly power online”.
Furthermore, the data is likely to be used to power Google’s fledgling personalised healthcare operations, granting it a significant competitive advantage in the emerging market.
“Google should not gain control of Fitbit’s sensitive and individualised health data that can be integrated with data from its current services to entrench its monopoly power,” campaign groups including the Open Markets Institute, Public Citizen and the Electronic Privacy Information centre said.
“Through its vast portfolio of internet services, Google knows more about us than any other company, and it should not be allowed to add yet another way to track our every move.”
Although Google has not commented on the calls for the deal to be blocked, its senior vice president for devices said separately that Fitbit data “will not be used for Google ads” and that it’ll give users “the choice to review, move, or delete their data”.
According to Eric Topol, author of Deep Medicine, Google’s ultimate aim is likely be creating a “virtual coach” using various data sources to “give you real-time advice”.