The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has rejected an undertaking by Google regarding the proposed acquisition of Fitbit. ACCC chair Rod Sim said that the watchdog would like to investigate for some more time and will announce its final decision on March 25. Under the undertaking given by Google, the company had promised that it will not use any data collected through the wrist-worn fitness tracking devices and Google wearables for advertisement purposes for at least 10 years. It even proposed that ACCC can extend the duration further by 10 years if it deemed it to be right. The company also said that access to only certain user data will be provided to third parties for 10 years. Along with it, the company also promised to maintain levels of interoperability between Android smartphones and third-party wearables for 10 years as part of the undertaking.
But the watchdog rejected the undertaking. It said the deal is likely to further increase the dominance of Google in online advertising. The ACCC said that even with long term undertaking, the company will continue to have access to user data that will become valuable with time. “The watchdog is concerned that the deal will squeeze out other wearables from the market. This will help Fitbit reduce its competition as other such products are totally dependent on the Android system and other services of Google to make their devices work effectively,”
Acknowledging that a similar undertaking was accepted by the European Commission last week, the ACCC said that further scrutiny was required. It said that such a long-term behavioral undertaking is very difficult to be monitored. Google said that it is extremely disappointed by the decision of the ACCC and will continue to work with it in order to assuage their fear. “We will engage with the watchdog and will respond to all their questions. Google is committed to protecting the privacy of the Fitbit users and the deal was not about data but devices,” a spokesperson of the company said.
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