Vestager Weighs In On Google-Fitbit Probe

The European Union’s review of Google’s plan to buy Fitbit Inc. won’t involve privacy regulators, the bloc’s antitrust chief insisted, days after data watchdogs warned about how tech giants could use M&A to access citizens’ private information.

A panel of EU data regulators raised the alarm last week, saying that the $2.1 billion takeover of fitness tracker Fitbit could “entail a high risk to privacy and data protection” in an unusual statement.

But the group, known as the European Data Protection Board, can’t have a formal role weighing the merger, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We cannot invite other bodies to participate,” she said. “We are very much aware that in cases there can be a privacy issue. We are just very careful not to see a competition issue where there is a privacy issue because, if that is the case, it’s not for us.”

Google’s plan to buy Fitbit is running into a wall of antitrust and privacy worries in the U.S., Europe and Australia, where competition officials are increasingly wary of how internet giants can exert control over data to cement their dominance. The deal adds wearable devices to the internet giant’s hardware business. It also advances the ambitions of Google parent Alphabet Inc. to expand in the health-care sector by adding data from Fitbit’s more than 28 million users.

Full Content: Bloomberg

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