The deadline for Europe to make a name on the Google -Fitbit merger has been pushed out once more — with EU regulators now having till January eight, 2021, to take a call.
The most recent change to the provisional deadline, noticed earlier by Reuters, could possibly be the results of one of many events asking for extra time.
Final month the deadline for a call was prolonged till December 23 — doubtlessly pushing the choice out past a 12 months after Google introduced its intention to purchase Fitbit, again in November 2019. So if the tech big hoped for a easy and swift regulatory rubberstamping its hopes have been diminishing since August when the Fee introduced it was going to dig into the element. As soon as bitten and all that.
The proposed Fitbit acquisition additionally comes as Alphabet, Google’s father or mother, is underneath intense antitrust scrutiny on a number of fronts on house turf.
Google featured prominently in a report by the Home Judiciary Committee on massive tech antitrust issues earlier this month, with US lawmakers recommending a variety of cures — together with breaking apart platform giants.
European lawmakers are additionally within the strategy of drawing up new guidelines to manage so-called ‘gatekeeper’ platforms — which might nearly definitely apply to Google. A legislative proposal on that’s anticipated earlier than the top of this 12 months, which implies it might seem earlier than EU regulators have taken a call on the Google-Fitbit deal. (And one imagines Google isn’t precisely stoked about that chance.)
Each competitors and privateness issues have been raised towards permitting Google get its fingers on Fitbit customers’ knowledge.
The tech big has responded by providing quite a lot of pledges to attempt to persuade regulators — saying it will not use Fitbit well being and wellness knowledge for advertisements and providing to have knowledge separation necessities monitored. It has additionally mentioned it will commit to keep up third events’/rivals’ entry to its Android ecosystem and Fitbit’s APIs.
Nonetheless rival wearable makers have continued to criticize the proposed merger. And, earlier this week, client safety and human rights teams issued a joint letter — urging regulators to solely approve the takeover if “merger cures can successfully forestall [competition and privacy] harms within the brief and long run”.
One factor is obvious: With antitrust issues now writ giant towards ‘massive tech’ the period of ‘friction-free’ acquisitions appears to be behind Google et al.