Reportedly, the US Department of Justice will review Google’s acquisition of wearable device company Fitbit in November and investigate possible concerns about detailed user data that Fitbit would provide to Google.
The New York Post reports that both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, both of whom could investigate the merger, were worried about the merger. However, the Ministry of Justice has already launched an important antitrust investigation against Google and requested documents from the company in September. The agency also announced a comprehensive survey of major technology companies focused on research, social media and some retail services. The FTC was given the power to investigate Facebook and Amazon.
Reuters also confirmed that the Ministry of Justice will take the lead in an investigation.
Numerous privacy and consumer rights groups have asked the government to stop Google’s acquisition of Fitbit. The deal could help Google compete with Apple in the portable computer market. Unlike Apple, however, Google’s core business includes targeted advertising, data mining and services that manage much of our digital life. Purchasing a popular fitness tracking device will expand the data store.
And the antitrust director of the Justice Department Makan Delrahim suggested that data protection concerns could play a role in any investigation. “It would be a serious mistake to believe that privacy issues can never play a role in the cartel analysis,” Delrahim said at a November conference shortly after the acquisition. “Without competition, a dominant company can more easily reduce quality, for example by reducing privacy without losing a significant number of users.”
Google has been authorized to purchase many other companies over the past two decades, although some restrictions have been added. As public criticisms of technological monopolies have increased, the result of this Fitbit review may indicate how seriously the Justice Department actually limits the power of large technology companies – and unlike a larger review, you don’t have to worry about undoing the mergers I already have closed. You may want to delete your Fitbit data just in case.
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