Advocacy groups want feds to block Google's Fitbit acquisition

Advocacy groups want feds to block Google's Fitbit acquisition
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A coalition of advocacy groups plans to call on the federal government to block Google's recent acquisition of fitness tracking device company Fitbit.

The groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said Monday they will send a letter urging government regulators to nix the purchase. Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy are among the groups that will call for blocking the purchase, according to EPIC.

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“There are several important reasons [to block the acquisition] … This is obviously sensitive data,” Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s president, told The Hill.

“The second is that Google’s previous representations about safeguarding user data after acquisitions are commitments they don’t keep. The third is that both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, one of which will certainly review the deal, have indicated that it’s important to closely scrutinize mergers in the tech industry," Rotenberg said. "We think they will move to block the deal and we want to encourage them to take that step.”

A spokesperson for Google told The Hill that the company is committed to honoring previous data privacy agreements from Fitbit and will be transparent about what data is collected with the devices.

Data collected by the apps will not be used for ad targeting, and users will be able to review and delete their data, according to Google.

The company on Friday announced the $2.1 billion deal to acquire Fitbit. The sale will require approval from Fitbit's stockholders and federal regulators.

Google's acquisition comes as the tech giant has struggled to break into the fitness wearables market with its Wear OS platform.

Google is already the subject of antitrust investigations by the House Judiciary Committee, Justice Department and several state attorneys general.

Concerns about anti-competitive behavior by Silicon Valley have also been raised on the 2020 campaign trail, where Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.) has called for breaking up the biggest tech firms.