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Privacy Groups Warn FTC on Google Fitbit Buy

November 14 2019

US data protection organisations have written to the Federal Trade Commission to advise that Google's proposed $2.1 billion acquisition of health data company Fitbit will lead to 'a dramatic erosion of consumer privacy'.

Privacy Groups Warn FTC on Google Fitbit BuyThe search and mobile o/s giant announced the deal the week before last, with a price tag of c.$2.1 billion - while moving to assure consumers that it would not use Fitbit's health and wellness data for Google ads.

This week's letter was penned by representatives from the Open Markets Institute, Center for Digital Democracy, Public Citizen, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumer Federation of America, Oakland Privacy, Media Alliance and Consumer Action, according to a report on news site www.mediapost.com . The writers argue that the proposed deal will allow Google to further consolidate its 'monopoly power over Internet-based services' and increase its 'already massive store of consumer data, including highly sensitive health and location information'.

The signatories urge the FTC to block the deal, citing Google's 'unwavering plan to acquire consumer data, regardless of its source', as seen in recent news that it has gained access to millions of people's medical records without their knowledge, via a partnership with Ascension; and its recent settlement for $170m for allegedly collecting data from under-13s on YouTube without their parents' consent. Mediapost says Google SVP Rick Osterloh wrote in a November 1st blog post that the company 'will be transparent about the data we collect and why', adding: 'We will never sell personal information to anyone, and we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data'.

All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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