Concerns stay as Commission clears Google/Fitbit merger

The European Commission’s announcement today of its merger clearance decision in Google/Fitbit is disappointing news for all those concerned with Google’s vast and increasing market power. 

Hausfeld & Co LLP are instructed by global NGO Privacy International, who secured formal interested third person status for the purposes of the Commission’s merger review. 

Privacy International argued that the acquisition requires close scrutiny by regulators as it is highly likely to significantly impede effective competition in several vitally important markets and result in the strengthening of Google’s dominant positions, with negative ramifications for competition and in turn upon consumers and wider society.

As well as Google’s strength in the digital advertising markets, Privacy International highlighted the apparent lack of consideration for further important and growing markets, notably wearables and digital health. 

Hausfeld are leading cases on behalf of clients harmed by Google’s abuses of its entrenched market power in the UK and in continental Europe. Hausfeld Partner Anna Morfey said: 

“Today’s clearance decision is disappointing for all those rightfully concerned by increasing concentrations of power in the digital economy. This stamp of approval for Google’s expanded market power is at odds with the Commission’s stated aims of ensuring open and competitive digital markets and we are concerned that it will have negative consequences for competition and consumers across Europe.”

Ioannis Kouvakas, Legal Officer at Privacy International, said:

“While we welcome the Commission’s in-depth review of the merger, which seems to also lay emphasis on data as a parameter for assessing big tech dominance, we believe that the transaction continues to pose significant risks for consumers. Nothing seems to prevent Google from further enriching their massive data troves with vast quantities of sensitive health data and using them for a series of data exploitation purposes outside the digital advertising markets.”

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