Google-Fitbit deal could carry data and privacy risks, EU privacy agency says

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The acquisition of Fitbit by Google and its parent company Alphabet could pose privacy concerns for consumers, the European Union's privacy agency said Thursday.

Alphabet announced the $2.1 billion deal for the fitness tracking firm in November 2019, as a move to strengthen its position in the smartwatch race with Apple, Samsung and other competitors.

But the European Data Protection Board noted that the merger involving "possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection."

The board warned the companies of "their obligations under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, passed in 2018) and to conduct a full assessment of the data protection requirements and privacy implications of the merger in a transparent way."

Alphabet and Fitbit should "mitigate possible risks to the rights to privacy and before notifying the merger to the European Commission," the board said.

The companies expected the deal to close in 2020.

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