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Department of Justice clears path for Google acquisition of Fitbit

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Full Fitbit smartwatch, tracker, and scale family image for 2019 Q3.

Google has completed its acquisition of smartwatch maker Fitbit after a protracted investigation by the US Department of Justice into the protection of customer data was concluded.

The DOJ was looking into whether rich data from Fitbit watches and fitness trackers could be used to target customers with personalized advertising in a way that distorted competition.

There is some uncertainty over whether the deal is finalized. According to CSNBC, Google says the DOJ is satisfied and the deal is closed, but Reuters is reporting that the investigation could continue or be reopened at a later date.

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“This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy,” Google’s senior vice president of devices and services Rick Osterloh said in a statement.

“We worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers’ privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data,” he added.

The issue is not so much about competition between smartwatch makers. Without Fitbit, Google is not in the hardware game, but competes with Apple’s software platform and apps with Wear OS and third party apps on its Play Store.

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