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Google completes Fitbit acquisition

Google completes Fitbit acquisition
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Google announced Thursday that it has completed its acquisition of health wearables company Fitbit.

The purchase, which set off alarm bells for antitrust and privacy hawks alike, was first announced in November 2019.

The deal has faced scrutiny from regulators in the U.S. and abroad over concerns about data that Google would gain from Fitbit.

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The Europe Commission's antitrust enforcer approved the deal last month after Google said it would not use any data collected from the fitness trackers for targeted advertising for at least 10 years.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission declined to approve the deal shortly after its European counterpart gave the thumbs up.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) also continues to investigate the acquisition. Although Google did not need consent from the DOJ to complete the deal, the merger could be unwound if the agency determines down the line that it violates antitrust law.

“The Antitrust Division’s investigation of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing," Alex Okuliar, deputy attorney general for antitrust, said in a statement. “The Division remains committed to conducting this review as thoroughly, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.”

A Google spokesperson told The Hill that the company has complied with "the DOJ’s extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection."

"We continue to be in touch with them and we’re committed to answering any additional questions," they added.

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In a blog post announcing the deal’s completion Thursday, Google’s senior vice president, Rick Osterloh, rebuffed concerns about acquiring sensitive data.

“This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy,” he wrote.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction FDA signals plan to address toxic elements in baby food Sen. Tina Smith calls for eliminating filibuster MORE (D-Minn.), who will likely head the Senate subcomittee tasked with antitrust in the upcoming Congress, said that the release of the announcement while the acquisition is still under review is "yet another sign of the company’s troubling lack of concern" for compliance with competition laws.

"Despite the premature completion of this merger, I continue to urge the Department to seek all appropriate remedies under the law to protect competition and consumers from any anticompetitive effects caused by this transaction," she said in a statement.

— Updated at 8:50 p.m.