Technology

Google now owns Fitbit, vows not to use tracker health data for ad targeting

Google has been pursuing an acquisition of fitness tech company Fitbit for quite some time now, but the deal has been held up by a lengthy privacy-related investigation from the European Commission. However, the investigation has finally come to a close, and Google has been able to move forward: it’s now the new owner of Fitbit.
After months of discussions between Google, Fitbit, and the EC, a deal has finally been struck, and Google officially owns Fitbit. This news was announced separately today by both Fitbit itself and its new search giant overlord. Fitbit’s post largely focuses on the ways in which being acquired by Google will lead to a brighter future for the company and its users while downplaying the potential privacy risks.

“On our own, we pushed the bounds of what was possible from the wrist, pioneering step, heart rate, sleep and stress tracking,” Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park writes. “With access to Google’s incredible resources, knowledge and global platform, the possibilities are truly limitless.”

Park goes on to say that user trust will “continue to be paramount,” and their strong data privacy and security protections will be maintained post-merger (partially due to the European Commission’s demands, we’d imagine).

“Google will continue to protect Fitbit users’ privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators,” Park assures customers. “…Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data.”

It remains to be seen whether or not these lofty claims will hold true in the long term. The European Commission’s rules for this merger are good for the next decade, but as we all know by now, big tech companies are always looking for new and creative ways to skirt regulations.

The transaction between Google and Fitbit was reportedly worth about $2.1 billion in total, which should result in a nice payout for Fitbit’s stakeholders and founders.