A group of 20 consumer interest organisations covering Europe, Australia, the US, Canada and Latin America urged regulators to thoroughly scrutinise Google’s proposed buy of Fitbit, warning it could increase the acquirer’s already immense power.
In a joint statement, the groups said there were “serious concerns” around the potential for the exploitation of data collected by Fitbit to strengthen Google’s already dominant position in various digital sectors.
They also highlighted risks to consumer welfare, data privacy and competition in the digital health markets.
The statement was signed by a range of groups including The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Australian Privacy Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense and Mexican group Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales.
“Wearable devices could replace smartphones as the main gateway to the internet, just as smartphones replaced personal computers. Google’s expansion into this market, edging out other competitors would thus be significant,” the bodies noted. “Wearables like Fitbit’s could in future give companies details of essentially everything consumers do 24/7 and allow them to feed digital services back to consumers.”
Though stopping short of calling for regulators to block the deal outright, the statement urged careful analysis on the implications for consumers and consideration of the “potential for far reaching and dynamic effects on digital and health markets”.
“This will be a test case for how regulators address the immense power the tech giants exert over the digital economy and their ability to expand their ecosystems unchecked,” it added.
The statement comes as the European Commission continues to probe the $2.1 billion deal alongside regulators in various other markets including the US and Australia.
Google announced the acquisition subject to approvals in November 2019.
In statements at the time, Fitbit was adamant its health and wellness data would not be used for Google advertisements following completion.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back