The last thing that Fitbit needs is for its Google buyout not to happen – but that’s exactly what could happen after it was revealed that the US Justice Department is investigating the sale.
It seems there’s plenty of pressure out there to get the $2.1bn deal called off, and that’s resulted in extra scrutiny from the Justice Department, which could block the deal.
According to the New York Post, the it's taken the investigation from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) because Google’s data dealings are already part of a larger anti-trust case.
The issue is that Google taking on the health data of millions of people isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
The difference between Google and other companies is that it deals in the data of people. All these free services we know and love feed its colossal data empire – which is then used to target us with ads, recommendations and the like. And people are worried that health data will feed into this.
Fitbit and Google pre-empted this by ruling out the use of people’s health data in targeted advertising.
“Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why.
“The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads,” said the company’s official statement when the deal was announced.
However, privacy advocacy groups like Watchdog groups like Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy aren’t taking their word for it – and neither is the US government.
So what’s next?
Well, the deal is likely to be delayed as this aspect is investigated. And the FTC is already looking into the anti-trust issues that could arise from having two companies (Google and Apple) controlling the wearable tech market.
But if the deal was to be blocked – that would be seriously bad news for Fitbit.
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