EU’s Google-Fitbit antitrust choice deadline pushed into 2021 – TechCrunch

The deadline for Europe to make a name on the Google -Fitbit merger has been pushed out once more — with EU regulators now having till January 8, 2021, to take a choice.

The newest change to the provisional deadline, noticed earlier by Reuters, may very well be the results of one of many events asking for extra time.

Last month the deadline for a choice was prolonged till December 23 — doubtlessly pushing the choice out past a 12 months after Google introduced its intention to purchase Fitbit, again in November 2019. So if the tech large hoped for a easy and swift regulatory rubberstamping its hopes have been diminishing since August when the Fee introduced it was going to dig into the element. Once bitten and all that.

The proposed Fitbit acquisition additionally comes as Alphabet, Google’s mum or dad, is beneath intense antitrust scrutiny on multiple fronts on residence turf.

Google featured prominently in a report by the Home Judiciary Committee on massive tech antitrust issues earlier this month, with US lawmakers recommending a spread of treatments — together with breaking apart platform giants.

European lawmakers are additionally within the strategy of drawing up new rules to regulate so-called ‘gatekeeper’ platforms — which might almost certainly apply to Google. A legislative proposal on that’s anticipated earlier than the top of this 12 months, which implies it might seem earlier than EU regulators have taken a choice on the Google-Fitbit deal. (And one imagines Google isn’t precisely stoked about that risk.)

Each competition and privacy issues have been raised in opposition to permitting Google get its palms on Fitbit customers’ knowledge.

The tech large has responded by providing a number of pledges to try to convince regulators — saying it could not use Fitbit well being and wellness knowledge for advertisements and providing to have knowledge separation necessities monitored. It has additionally stated it could commit to take care of third events’/rivals’ entry to its Android ecosystem and Fitbit’s APIs.

Nevertheless rival wearable makers have continued to criticize the proposed merger. And, earlier this week, shopper safety and human rights teams issued a joint letter — urging regulators to solely approve the takeover if “merger treatments can successfully stop [competition and privacy] harms within the brief and long run”.

One factor is evident: With antitrust issues now writ massive in opposition to ‘massive tech’ the period of ‘friction-free’ acquisitions seems to be to be behind Google et al.

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