Personal data: why Google’s takeover of Fitbit could be a problem

Google wants to buy Fitbit, a connected object company. Concerned about the use that the American giant could make of the personal data collected by Fitbit, the European Commission opens an in-depth investigation. She fears that this takeover will lead to an abuse of a dominant position.

Big Data”: The Problems arising out of Google's acquisition of ...Is Google going to get its hands on a wealth of personal data? The group is again in  the crosshairs of the European Commission  and will be the subject of an in-depth investigation into the buyout of Fitbit. The European Union does not seem to appreciate the plan of the American giant to buy the company, which specializes in connected objects for physical activities. It fears, in fact, an abuse of a dominant position.

Fitbit data, a gold mine for Google

At first glance, there is no connection between Google, the number one search engine, and Fitbit, which sells connected objects for athletes. An area in which the American giant is not really present. But what worries is Google’s appropriation of data from Fitbit users . Bracelets, watches, connected sensors used for playing sports collect a whole lot of information: weight, heart rate, movements, etc. Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president of the Commission responsible for competition policy, stressed that the use of connected objects “is expected to increase considerably in the years to come”, which would therefore offer them ever more data.

This data is a digital gold mine. They are used by businesses to send targeted advertising. And  Google is already a data juggernaut thanks to its search engine and applications like Google Maps. Ads resulting from the resale of our data earned him $ 115 billion last year alone. The Commission’s investigation therefore aims to ensure that the takeover of Fitbit will not worsen this situation and further distort competition.

Decision expected by December 9

Google announced at the beginning of November 2019 the takeover of Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion, the transaction to be concluded in 2020. The European Commission was notified on June 15 of this acquisition. The number one search engine has sought to reassure her by pledging to keep the data collected separate from its other activities. “This buyback is for accessories, not data. We are committed to not using Fitbit’s health data for advertising,” Google commented. An insufficient safeguard for the European body which now has until December 9 to render its decision.