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Tue Nov 5, 2019, 08:15 AM

Privacy Advocates Sound Alarm on Google's FitBit Acquisition

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/04/not-just-business-deal-its-data-grab-privacy-advocates-sound-alarm-googles

"There is no reason to trust Google's assurances about privacy protection."

Google's announcement Friday that it intends on acquiring digital fitness tracker maker Fitbit has raised the eyebrows of privacy advocates in the U.S. and U.K. who say regulators should oppose the deal.

"This is not just a business deal, it's a data grabóand that should worry us all," Tom Watson, the Labour Party's digital, culture, media, and sport secretary, wrote to the U.K's Competition and Markets Authority.



I donít understand why all the tech press stories today talk about Googleís acquisition of Fitbit as a hardware acquisition. Why are they being so naive? This is a data acquisition. Itís about the data. Thatís why Facebook was trying to get Fitbit instead. #hellnonotmydata

The two companies announced the intended $2.1 billion deal last week Friday. Reuters first reported the deal.

As Reuters reported,

Google already has a vast stores of data it uses to market to people, everything from what they read online to what they watch on YouTube, to where they go using Google Maps. The deal would give the advertising giant a treasure trove of information about everything from how well Fitbit's 27.6 million users sleep at night, to when and how they exercise.


The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in a statement on Monday, pointed to (pdf) Fitbit and Google's tack record as cause for concern.

"First, Fitbit gathers sensitive personal data that should not be transferred to others," said EPIC president Marc Rotenber. "Last year, the Department of Defense prohibited military personnel from using geolocation features on their fitness devices because of privacy and security concerns."

"Second, there is no reason to trust Google's assurances about privacy protection," he continued, noting that the web giant "routinely breaks its commitments and conceals its tracking capabilities." Rotenber pointed to an incident earlier in the year when "Google admitted it built a hidden microphone in the Nest alarm system. The Google Home Mini was released with the device set to always record. These stories go back more than a decade."

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