Google’s Plan To Buy Fitbit Runs Into Antitrust Concerns

Google’s plan to buy Fitbit is running into a wall of antitrust and privacy worries in the US, Europe and Australia, reported Bloomberg. 
Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of the maker of smartwatches and fitness trackers, announced in November, would add wearable devices to the internet giant’s hardware business. It also advances the ambitions of Google parent Alphabet Inc. to expand in the healthcare sector by adding data from Fitbit’s more than 28 million users. Google has struck cloud-service partnerships with hospital groups and signed a deal with Mayo Clinic to build new artificial intelligence tools.
According to Bloomberg, in the past, the Fitbit deal probably wouldn’t have raised much concern for competition enforcers because the company doesn’t compete directly with Google. And even with Fitbit, Google would have a minuscule share of the hardware and fitness-tracker market.
Today, there’s heightened concern, particularly in the European Union, about how tech companies can leverage their control over data to become ever more powerful. Regulators also face criticism that they’ve been too permissive in allowing tech deals like Facebook Inc.’s $19 billion takeover of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014 and its $1 billion purchase of photo-sharing service Instagram in 2012.
“It would be a great test case,” said Maurice Stucke, an antitrust law professor at the University of Tennessee who calls companies like Google data-opolies because of the huge amounts of data they hold. “The concern is Google would use this data to help reinforce its dominance in other segments.”