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Google’s acquisition of Fitbit appears likely to receive approval

The company has made new promises regarding data use in order to appease regulators

Photo (c) franckreporter - Getty Images
Google appears poised to obtain regulator approval for its acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit after promising not to personalize advertisements based on user data for the next decade. 

Previously, the company pledged not to use Fitbit health data to aid its ad targeting for five years. Now, reports indicate that the tech giant has extended the data pledge in a bid to receive approval from the European Union.

Google announced its intention to buy the Fitbit in November 2019. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported on Tuesday that Google’s plan to buy the company for $2.1 billion looks set to be approved thanks to the company’s new concessions. 

‘About devices, not data’

In August, the EU launched an investigation into the company’s proposed acquisition of the wearables maker in order to determine whether the deal might allow Google to exploit Fitbit's health and location datasets in order to get an edge over competitors. 

Fitbit has health data on more than 28 million users. In July, Google assured regulators that the deal was “about devices, not data” and promised not to use Fitbit data if the deal was approved.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising,” Google said in a statement at the time.

In addition to promising not to use data for ad targeting purposes, Google also reportedly agreed this week to allow other devices to use Fitbit’s health data if a user consents. Additionally, the company said Fitbit devices will still work with competing services, like Map My Run and Strava.

The EU has until the end of the year to make a formal decision on whether to approve the deal. 

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