Valentina Palladino

The EU has called for Google to make large concessions in connection with the acquisition of the $ 2.1 billion fitness tracking company Fitbit if the deal is imminent, according to people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Since the announcement last November, the acquisition has met with fierce opposition from consumer groups and regulators who have raised concerns about the impact of Google's access to Fitbit's health data on competition.

EU regulators now want the company to promise not to use this information to "further improve its search benefit" and to give third parties equal access to it, these people said.

The move comes days after EU regulators suffered a major blow in Luxembourg and lost an important case that would have forced Apple to repay taxes of 14.3 billion euros to Ireland.

Brussels insiders said that a refusal by Google to comply with the new requirements would likely result in a lengthy investigation, adding that such a scenario could ultimately disadvantage the EU.

"It's like a poker game," said one person who was closely following the case. "In a lengthy investigation, the Commission risks making fewer or no commitments and clarifying the deal."

They added that the discussions about the takeover are "intense" and that there is no guarantee that an agreement will be reached between Brussels and Google.

Google had previously promised not to use Fitbit's health data to improve its own advertising. However, according to Brussels insiders, the commitment was not enough to dispel the EU's concerns, nor were the concerns of the U.S. regulators, who are also reviewing the deal.

Earlier this month, Brussels sent questionnaires to competitors to assess whether the transaction could harm competition and disadvantage other fitness tracking apps on the Google Play store.

A number of consumer groups, including the European umbrella organization BEUC and the Consumer Federation of America, have warned strongly about the deal.

Regardless, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also expressed concerns that the transaction could help strengthen Google's position.

Google declined to comment on the details of its recent discussions with the European Commission, but referred to an earlier statement: "During this process, we made it clear that we are committed to not providing Fitbit health and wellness information to Google -Use ads and that we are responsible for people with choice and control over their data.

“Similar to our other products with wearables, we will be transparent about what data we collect and why. And we don't sell personal information to third parties. "

The European Commission, which has until 8 August to decide on the agreement, declined to comment.


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