Google’s bid to acquire smartwatch giant Fitbit for $2.1 billion has been conditionally approved by the European Commission.
Google officially tabled a bid for the company last November, but competition concerns have until now prevented it going ahead.
In August the European Commission officially opened an investigation into the deal, aiming to establish whether Google’s access to 28 million users’ personal fitness data could “further entrench” its dominance in the online advertising market.
On Thursday, the EU said the deal could go ahead if Google agreed to follow a set of commitments over the next 10 years.
These would prevent Google from using users’ fitness data for advertising inside the EU, and would enforce a technical separation of Fitbit and Google’s data.
“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,” European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said.
“The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for ad purposes, how interoperability between competing wearables and Android will be safeguarded and how users can continue to share health and fitness data, if they choose to.”
Google has always maintained that its interest in the company was focused on its market-leading fitness tracker hardware, rather than its data.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “We believe this deal will spur innovation in wearable devices and enable us to build products that help people lead healthier lives.
“We understand that regulators wanted to look closely at this transaction, and we have worked constructively with them to resolve their concerns, including the set of legally binding commitments the European Commission accepted today.
“These build on assurances we have made since the beginning that we are committed to protecting Fitbit users’ privacy and will continue to invest in and support manufacturers and developers. We continue to work with regulators around the world to answer their questions about the acquisition.”