EU Commission assessment of the Google-Fitbit merger must include human rights risks

To: Ms Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President

A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition

European Commission

Friday, 27 November 2020

Dear Executive Vice-President Vestager,

I am writing to you to raise Amnesty International’s serious concerns over Google’s planned takeover of the wearables company Fitbit. The merger risks further extending the dominance of Google and its surveillance-based business model, the nature and scale of which already represent a systemic threat to human rights. The deal is particularly troubling given the sensitive nature of the health data that Fitbit holds that would be acquired by Google.

I am aware that the Commission is currently carrying out an investigation into competition concerns raised by the proposed acquisition under the EU Merger Regulation and is expected to take a final decision before the end of the year. As access to data is a parameter of competition, the European Commission must take into account the EU’s data protection principles, when assessing the impact of access and use of data on the market.

The Commission must ensure that the merger does not proceed unless the two business enterprises can demonstrate that they have taken adequate account of the human rights risks and implemented strong and meaningful safeguards that prevent and mitigate these risks in the future.