EU approves Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, subject to conditions

A Fitbit display is seen at a Target store in Los Angeles.

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LONDON — Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit has been conditionally approved by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU.

The Commission on Thursday set out a number of commitments that Google must follow over the next 10 years. It said Google must not be able to use the health data of Fitbit users in the European Economic Area for advertising and enforced a technical separation of Fitbit’s data from Google’s.

“We can approve the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google because the commitments will ensure that the market for wearables and the nascent digital health space will remain open and competitive,” European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement on Thursday.

“The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for ad purposes, how interoperability between competing wearables and Android will be safeguarded and how users can continue to share health and fitness data, if they choose to,” she added.

Europe’s approval of the deal comes after a months-long probe into whether it could “further entrench” Google’s market position in the online advertising business if it uses Fitbit data to help personalize the ads it shows users.

Several EU lawmakers and competitors to Google had expressed concern that the company’s acquisition of Fitbit could undermine the privacy of the wearable tech firm’s users. For its part, Google has insisted the deal is about Fitbit’s hardware rather than getting access to its coveted health data.

Based in San Francisco, Fitbit is one of the world’s leading wearable device manufacturers. The company has sold more than 100 million devices to date and boasts 28 million users. Acquiring Fitbit would help Google to take on rivals like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Garmin in the wearables market.

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