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Google, Fitbit deal may hamper competition, says Australian regulator

Reuters/Sydney
Filed on June 18, 2020 | Last updated on June 18, 2020 at 04.59 pm
Australia's watchdog has outlined worries over whether Google would favour its own wearable devices over competitors when suggesting services on its platforms.

(Reuters file)

Concerns 'preliminary', announcement of review's outcome slated on August 13

Australia's consumer watchdog said on Thursday it had concerns that Alphabet Inc-owned Google's planned $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness tracker company Fitbit may hinder competition in digital advertising and health markets.

The deal would give Google access to consumer health data, which may raise entry barriers for rivals and cement its dominant position, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.

The regulator described its concerns as "preliminary" and will announce the outcome of its review on August 13.

"The ACCC's investigation is focussed on certain online advertising services and nascent data-dependent health markets," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

"We will explore the uniqueness and potential value that Fitbit's data poses for Google, and its likely competitors in these advertising and health markets."

It is the first regulator to voice competition concerns about the deal, although US and European antitrust regulators have said they are looking at the proposed acquisition following concerns from consumer and privacy groups.

The ACCC also outlined worries over whether Google would favour its own wearable devices over competitors when suggesting services on its platforms such as WearOS, Google Maps and Google Play Store.

A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment. Fitbit did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment.


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