back to article European Commission: Full-scale probe launched into data-slurping potential of Google's $2.1bn Fitbit buy

The European Commission has pulled out its microscope to perform a full-blown inspection - under EU Merger Regulations - of Google’s proposed $2.1bn purchase of Fitbit and the wider data implications for users and rivals. Confirmation of the probe comes a little more than a month after 20 consumer and citizen rights groups …

  1. RM Myers
    Thumb Down

    “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”

    My first thought when I saw this was that they won't use the data for ads about Google products, but for ads they sell to other businesses - GAME ON! With companies like Google, I always read any disclaimers literally. So Google ads means ads for Google, not ads sold by Google.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”

      IOW, the ads themselves may not be presented to Fitbit users, but the Fitbit information will almost certainly be used to customize other ads throughout the Google ecosystem.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”

      Absolutely! Google's business is to profit from the data it acquires, ultimately it will monetise that data and most likey to the detriment of the original providers and owners of that data.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”

      Agreed, but it can even be more sneaky than that.

      Google absolutely has the means of creating an entirely separate structure that will use the data for its ads - that are then not Google ads.

      Never forget : every multinational conglomerate is a Russian Doll construction of truth. They say what you want to hear, and interpret the words to their own advantage, never in the way you think the words apply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”

        We might also want to ask why the data is uploaded in the first place. I'd be perfectly happy for my watch to send the data to my phone and then let it stay there (with an option to upload to the cloud if I wanted).

        Would have meant Garmin users weren't impacted by the downtime from their recent mess....

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Not advertising, monetization

    That is the real problem. If they can integrate the information into the rest of your profile, that provides a lot of information that can be monetized, for example selling information to health insurance companies etc.

    This person does ~3,000 steps a day, has a generally high heart rate and searches a lot for near-by branches of McDonald's and Burger King, searches for Doritos and Nacho Cheese dips and streams hours of video every day from YouTube... If FitBit starts also doing blood pressure, blood oxygen levels etc. That provides a lot of additional pointers. Put in extra information from things like App usage, uses Uber Eats every day, uses an electro-roller (instead of walking or using a push bike) etc. and you have a lot of very "bad" information for the FitBit data slave, sorry, FitBit users.

  3. Ish148

    I'm so confused, both Google and Fitbit are American so why does the EU have any jurisdiction over this merger?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ish148 - It's about European users

      Americans can't be bothered with privacy.

  4. lglethal Silver badge

    Promise... Yeah, right?

    Google then wrote to EU regulators, pledging the buy of Fitbit was “about devices, not data,”

    And if you believe that, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying!

    Dont forget this is the same Google that promised not to combine Doubleclick's user profile data with its own user profile data. Which of course lasted about 6 months before that promise was broken. So yeah, I'd trust any "promise" from Google about as much as I would trust a promise from a hungry cannibal not to eat me whilst I sleep...

    1. KBeee Silver badge

      Re: Promise... Yeah, right?

      1. Dog ate my homework

      2. Cheque's in the post

      3. Google we promise not to

      Actually the We Promise Not To bit can be seen as a lie if said by pretty much any multinational company.

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