Google's $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition is a major privacy risk, Europe data body warns

Google's $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition is a major privacy risk, Europe data body warns
Fitbit Google

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo


Google announced it was buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November 2019.

  • Google said it would acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November 2019.
  • But regulators might put the acquisition on ice over privacy concerns.
  • The European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which advises the European Commission on data protection law, says it's worried about the massive tech firm accumulating yet more personal data.
  • Google is already under investigation by the EU for how it collects user data, and the US Department of Justice is separately investigating the Fitbit acquisition.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google's acquisition of wearables company Fitbit could be under threat from the EU.

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Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November 2019, marking a serious entry into the wearables market, currently dominated by Apple.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued a statement on Thursday voicing concerns over the prospective deal. It cited, in particular, the strict privacy rules that govern European users' online information, known as the GDPR.


"There are concerns that the possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to the fundamental rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data," the EDPB said in its statement, as first spotted by TechCrunch.

"The EDPB reminds the parties to the proposed merger of their obligations under the GDPR and to conduct a full assessment of the data protection requirements and privacy implications of the merger in a transparent way. The Board urges the parties to mitigate possible risks to the rights to privacy and data protection before notifying the merger to the European Commission," it added.

The EDPB is an independent body to the European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator, but advises on applying data protection law.

In response to the EDPB's statement, a Google spokesman told Business Insider:

"We are acquiring Fitbit to help us develop devices in the highly competitive wearables space and the deal is subject to the usual regulatory approvals. Protecting peoples' information is core to what we do, and we will continue to work constructively with regulators to answer their questions."


A spokesperson for the European Commission told TechCrunch Google and Fitbit are yet to formally notify the regulator of the merger.

The tech giant is already the subject of an EU antitrust investigation into how it amasses and leverages user data, while back in the US the Department of Justice is also investigating Google's purchase of Fitbit.

Get the latest Fitbit stock price here.

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