Acquiring Fitbit could prove more complicated than expected for Google. When formulating its proposal to buy the specialist in smart health connected watches for $ 2.1 billion in November 2019, the Mountain View firm already worried experts. They feared abusive practices vis-à-vis the management of health data. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) expressed its own concerns in this area on Thursday 20 February 2020. This suggests a potential objection from the European Commission to the operation.
GOOGLE WOULD LIKE TO EXPLOIT HEALTH DATA
This statement from the EDPB comes the day after the release of a European white paper largely devoted to a new type of data, industrial data, the exploitation of which could contradict the protection that surrounds personal data today. due to the GDPR. Because the Google project would be good, ultimately, to use the health data collected by Fitbit's smart health connected objects. To the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to investigate … prompting the Mountain View firm to declare that it would not use them "for advertising purposes".
Heart rate, sleep, geolocation … The manufacturer’s products (smart bracelets and smartwatches) are a gold mine, as they are worn by some 28 million people every day. A booty that the EU does not want to take lightly. "The cross-checking and accumulation of sensitive personal data concerning people living in Europe by a large technology company could lead to a significant risk for fundamental rights of privacy and data protection", writes in a report the EDPB, responsible for advising the European Commission to ensure the proper application of the GDPR.
REACHING THE CRITICAL SIZE ON THE WEARABLES MARKET
If it materializes, the move would propel the Mountain View firm to fifth in the world for wearable manufacturers, behind companies like Apple, Huawei and Samsung. Reacting to the doubts expressed by the EDPB in a press release, the multinational said it was buying Fitbit in order to "develop devices in the highly competitive field of clothing items and the operation is subject to the usual regulatory authorizations".
Ensuring to put "the protection of citizens' information at the heart of (his) action", Google says "be at the disposal of regulators" if they wish to question him about this acquisition. Questions, the EDPB will most certainly have. The European body has already expressed its great vigilance, reminding the two parties of their obligation to"assess the risks of a merger in terms of data protection and the consequences of this for privacy". Will he, however, go so far as to advise the European Commission to officially oppose the operation?