After Google’s Fitbit deal, EU says worrying when firms targeted for their data

LISBON (Reuters) – The acquisition of companies for their data is concerning in general for regulators, Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said on Thursday, a week after Google bought fitness trackers company Fitbit.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc-owned Google paid $2.1 billion for Fitbit to help it take on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) in the crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches.

Vestager declined to comment on the deal specifically but said there was general unease among regulators when data-heavy companies are the targets of bids.

Google’s deal has triggered calls from competitors to competition enforcers to take a tough line. Fitbit, which helped pioneer the wearable devices craze, has an invaluable trove of health data.

“In general we have a concern if companies merge because of data,” Vestager told a news briefing at Web Summit.

She added that regulators then considered the questions of, does this create a barrier to entry, will this make it more difficult to innovate and does a risk to privacy issues arise from that kind of data coming together.

Google’s Fitbit deal requires EU regulatory approval.

Vestager has in the last two years handed down more than 8 billion euros in fines to Google for stifling competitors in three separate cases involving its price comparison shopping product, its Android smartphone operating system and in search advertising brokering.