Google surrenders to EU’s wish; Will not use Fitbit health app data

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Global search giant Google has offered not to use fitness tracker company Fitbit health’s data to help target its ads in an attempt to address European Union (EU) antitrust concerns over its proposed $2.1 billion acquisition.

The deal between Google and Fitbit, which is yet to come through, has drawn strong criticism from privacy advocates globally due to the fear that Google may use Fitbit’s health data cache to improve its supremacy of online advertisement and search which has led to the EU looking into the matter.

The deal, which was announced in November 2019, is a part of Google’s strategy to take on the likes of Apple and Samsung in the smartwatch and fitness tracking industry of the world. Huawei and Xiaomi are the other major existing players in the sector.

A Fitbit is an activity tracker, usually worn on the wrist, that can track the distance you are walking, biking, swimming or cycling as well as the number of calories you are burning and taking in. Some of its products track your heart rate and quality of sleep too.

The brand was founded in California in 2007.

Google clarified its stand through an email that said, “This deal is about devices, not data. 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.”

According to the International Data Corp. market research company, Fitbit owns only 3% of the global wearables market as of the first quarter of 2020 and this can be attributed to Fitbit’s late arrival in the segment of smartwatches. It is well behind Apple’s 29.3% share and is also trailing Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei.

To decide the further course of action including whether to approve the agreement or demand further concessions or launch a four-month review if it has serious concerns, the European Commission is expected to receive input from rivals and consumers.