Back in November 2019, much to everyone's surprise, Google announced that it is buying wearable manufacturer Fitbit in a deal valued at $2.1 billion. Since then, this transaction has gone through multiple phases including a probe from the European Commission regarding antitrust concerns. Despite this hurdle, Google is optimistic of completing the purchase by the end of this year.
Now, regulatory authorities such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are also looking into the deal.
As spotted by ZDNet, the Australian watchdog has published draft undertakings submitted by Google and is now soliciting feedback from interested parties among the general public. The undertaking - which can be enforced by the court - restricts Google from utilizing user data harvested from Fitbit and future wearables developed by the company for its own advertising purposes for 10 years. This time frame could be extended by another 10 years if the ACCC believes it to be necessary. That said, Google also has to provide certain user data to third-party health apps and ensure their interoperability with Android handsets for the next 10 years.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims went on to say that:
Our decision to begin consultation should not be interpreted as a signal that the ACCC will ultimately accept the undertaking and approve the transaction. Feedback from interested parties will assist us to decide whether the behavioural remedy proposed is capable of addressing our competition concerns regarding this transaction.
Our concerns are that Google buying Fitbit will allow Google to build an even more comprehensive set of user data, further cementing its position and raising barriers to entry to potential rivals.
The undertaking is meant to restrict potential anti-competitive behaviour from Google, and to stop it from utilizing user data gained from this acquisition to enhance its targeted advertising capabilities. The ACCC is soliciting feedback about the undertaking from interested parties until December 9, 2020.